JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Migrant shelters, operating at or near capacity for the past two months, are running out of food staples and holding donation drives to provide for their guests, especially the children.
“We need diapers, formula for the babies and powdered milk for children up to (kindergarten) age. Those are our most urgent needs,” said Elizabeth Alvarez, coordinator of the San Romero de America migrant shelter in South Juarez. “We have a rest area for children with toys and learning material. That and small chairs and tables would help us a lot.”
Government officials here and in El Paso, Texas, say tens of thousands of migrants – ranging from Mexicans displaced by drug violence to Central Americans fleeing gangs and poverty – remain in Juarez, most waiting for a chance to cross into the United States.
The situation reached a critical point in mid-May, when large groups of migrants arrived with the expectation of U.S. authorities ending the Title 42 public health order that allows for immediate expulsions. Border Report documented how Mexicans and Haitians were sleeping on the streets of Juarez due to shelters being full.
Migrants like Belony Mezard and “Omar” are still coming to the border despite Title 42 restrictions remaining in place.
“In this shelter there are four families that have suffered kidnapping … and rape, like one of our companions that is here. Her partner is still missing,” said Omar, a Honduran. “In truth, it’s a difficult situation for the migrants.”
Omar said he was kidnapped along with his wife and children in Veracruz, Mexico, on his way to South Texas. His brother who works in the United States had to come up with the $13,000 for the ransom.
Now finding himself in a different region of Mexico, Omar and his family are taking a respite before deciding what to do.
Mezard, a Haitian, said he is grateful that Juarez has such an extensive system of migrant shelters. Local authorities know of at least 20 well-established temporary refuges for migrants, in addition to small Protestant churches that accommodate newcomers as best they can.
“Here they give me food and a bed to sleep on,” Mezard said. “I have health, physical problems and here they always help me with a doctor, with a psychologist.”
Like the rest of the adult migrants, Mezard repays the kindness helping out at the shelter. On Thursday, he carried bundles of donated goods from a truck in front of the shelter to the store house. Inside, women cut potatoes and prepared to cook the evening’s meal.