Tapachula, Mexico, Jul 15 (EFE).- More than 2,000 migrants, many of them Haitians, remain stranded in the southeastern Mexican border city of Tapachula, where Mexican refugee agency Comar kicked off a strategy this week aimed at providing more expedited assistance.
Comar’s delegate in Chiapas, Alma Cruz, said the new mechanism for attending to migrants was launched with the goal of preventing the accumulation of large crowds and the risk of a coronavirus super-spreader event.
The goal is to speed up foreigners’ asylum claim processes, which now begin virtually, and reduce the burden on local residents.
A group of around 2,000 migrants – most of them Haitians, Cubans and Central Americans – have been amassing in large crowds and waiting in long lines on a daily basis in Tapachula, located near the Mexican-Guatemalan border in Chiapas state.
Fights have occasionally broken out among the Haitian migrants outside Comar’s headquarters, with the long lines causing tensions to run high.
Obanel, a Haitian migrant, said Thursday he will submit his request for an asylum interview via Internet even though accessing the Web is often a challenge, adding that his ultimate goal to secure refugee status in Mexico.
To prevent arguments and violence from erupting in Tapachula and help federal employees coordinate and execute this new strategy, the Mexican government deployed members of the National Guard, a military police force, and other security forces to Comar’s headquarters.
Staff from the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), Mexico’s ombudsman’s office, also arrived in that southeastern city on Thursday to monitor the functioning of the new claim-processing mechanism.
Most of the people stranded in Tapachula are of Haitian origin, and their numbers could grow much larger considering the ongoing crisis in that impoverished Caribbean nation, a situation exacerbated by the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Cruz explained.
Moise’s killing may prompt new large waves of migrants to make the journey to Mexico in the coming months, Haitians already in Tapachula say.
Mexico’s government received a record 51,654 migrant asylum requests in the first half of 2021, Comar said Wednesday.
Most of those asylum claims were filed by Hondurans, who accounted for 22,826 of the total, while Haitians were next with 9,327.
“These photos you’re seeing, it’s not Rwanda or Angola or the most difficult refugee conditions internationally. It’s Mexico. It’s Tapachula. And it’s from Monday,” Andres Ramirez, Comar’s general coordinator, said in a press conference on Wednesday after showing images of the large crowds outside Comar’s offices.
North America is facing an unprecedented migrant wave, with several caravans filled with Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence in their homelands traveling northward in recent years to Mexico and the United States.
According to figures from the United States’ Customs and Border Protection agency, more than 180,000 undocumented migrants were encountered trying to cross into the US via the southern border in May, the highest monthly number in more than two decades. EFE