Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, May 22, 2020 — Paolo Lubrano, the International Rescue Committee’s Acting Country Director of Mexico, said, “The International Rescue Committee is deeply concerned about the news that COVID-19 cases have reached the largest government shelter in Ciudad Juárez, a shelter we support with gender-based violence work and COVID-19 hygiene kits. Three people from the same family in the shelter are confirmed with COVID-19. Shelters can be overcrowded, with communal living and eating, and this news could spark a worrying trend of cases across shelters. Asylum seekers in shelters along the border are already fleeing violence, and face compounding vulnerabilities living in one of the highest femicide cities in the world as they desperately try to seek safety in the US. Adding another vulnerability -- the threat of COVID-19 -- is unacceptable and heartbreaking.”
“The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has worked with local partners, with support from government actors and health authorities, to set up a triage and quarantine hotel for asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days before moving into shelters. The hotel, which can hold 108 people, also ensures that women can stay safe while in quarantine, instead of on the streets where femicides are on the rise. In the hotel, women can receive virtual case management. This ‘Triage Hotel’ also helps ensure COVID-19 does not spread through shelters. Continued support for this triage hotel, and continued funding to the border, will be crucial to limit compounding vulnerabilities on people who are already facing threats to their safety and livelihoods.”
Since mid-March 2020, the IRC has been working on a public health awareness campaign, together with local authorities and civil society partners, for shelters at the Mexico-US border in Ciudad Juárez. The project supports 16 shelters and is reaching 3,000 individuals and surrounding host communities -- indirectly benefiting an additional 10,000 people. The program includes: Sessions on the transmission of COVID-19, protective and preventive measures, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, where to access help and support, and the dissemination of flyers. The IRC has been working in Ciudad Juárez since May 2019 to meet the immediate needs of primarily women migrants, asylum seekers and deportees in Mexico.