Although Mexico has become one of the top recipients of asylum claims worldwide, there are still significant numbers of people in search of refuge displaced through the country, where support to provide the protection they need is insufficient, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned.

After identifying a large informal settlement of displaced people in the northern city of Chihuahua, Mexico, the IRC team in Ciudad Juárez carried out two emergency deployments to monitor the situation and diagnose key needs. The IRC determined that the settlement resulted from people stranded due to measures implemented by Mexican authorities to try to deter migration. 

Up to 1,500 people stayed in the settlement on any given day, of which 25% to 40% were children under the age of 12, experiencing dangers and needs such as:

Rafael Velásquez, Country Director for the IRC in Mexico, said:

“Over the past year, U.S. border policies have continued to represent a challenge for asylum seekers to get to safety, while Mexico has also undertaken new actions to slow migration at both the northern and the southern border. There have been reports that Mexico’s measures have resulted in a decrease in the number of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. We must remember that fewer encounters do not correspond to fewer people fleeing danger who require protection and humanitarian assistance. In fact, it only leads to more people making desperate decisions that could put them in further danger and at higher risk of experiencing violence or human trafficking.

“Mexico has certainly become one of the main recipients of asylum claims in recent years but the country is not necessarily an option for everyone. In addition, service providers here have operated beyond capacity for years. More support from the international community is needed to solve gaps in funding to implement comprehensive responses that can help people survive, recover and rebuild their lives in the places they consider safe for them and their families.”

Between March and April the IRC teams in Ciudad Juárez have implemented an emergency WASH, food security and protection response in the city of Chihuahua, reaching 520 households (1,560 people, 210 of them, children). The response has also included promoting access to reliable information through the InfoDigna platform. 

The IRC in Mexico

Currently, the IRC is responding along the main migration corridors in Mexico, from the southern to the northern borders. The IRC’s programs offer a timely and comprehensive response to the most urgent needs of people on the move, including: economic recovery and development; mental health and psychosocial support; child protection; multipurpose cash assistance to meet people’s basic needs; prevention and response to gender-based violence; access to critical information through InfoDigna, a multi-channel information platform; as well as identifying needs and referring cases to local service providers.