Wednesday 23 October 2019

Tijuana mayor declares ‘humanitarian crisis’ over caravan migrants

Juan Manuel Gastelum said the Mexican government has provided little assistance for 5,000 Central American migrants who have arrived.

A migrant shelter in Tijuana (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
A migrant shelter in Tijuana (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

By Associated Press Reporters

The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and said he has asked the UN for aid to deal with about 5,000 Central American migrants who have arrived.

Juan Manuel Gastelum said the Mexican government has provided little assistance and he is not going to commit the city’s public resources to dealing with the situation.

He said 4,976 migrants have arrived in the city.

“We don’t have sufficient and necessary infrastructure to adequately attend to these people, to give them a decent space,” he said on Grupo Formula radio.

(Twitter screenshot)

On Thursday, his government issued a statement saying it was requesting help from the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“I am not going to spend the money of Tijuana (citizens),” Mr Gasteulum said in the statement.

For the most part, the migrant caravan that left Honduras in mid-October was well received by the towns it passed through along the way to the border. Even cities with few resources made sure the migrants had food and a place to rest.

Migrants get ready to spend the night in front of a line of Mexican police in Tijuana (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

But in those places, the caravan stayed at most two nights — with the exception of Mexico City. In Tijuana, many of the migrants, who are fleeing violence and poverty, want to request asylum in the US and face the prospect of spending months in the border city before they have the opportunity to speak with a US official.

Mr Gastelum said on Friday that the Mexican government has talked about sending 20 tons of resources to Tijuana to help, but that three-quarters consisted of materials to reinforce the border and only five tons were materials to help the migrants.

Most of the migrants are staying at a makeshift shelter at a sports stadium in the city.

Mr Gastelum also criticised the federal government for not taking more seriously US President Donald Trump’s threat on Thursday to shut down the entire border if things get out of control in Tijuana.

“That’s serious,” he said.

Referring to a protest by a small group of migrants who marched to a border crossing on Thursday, Mr Gastelum said such demonstrations will not help.

“Thousands of people from Tijuana work in the United States, they arrive late to their jobs,” he said.

“From the United States the tourism isn’t coming here. The people aren’t coming to the medical sector. The situation is becoming uncomfortable.”

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