What happens when you cram 6,000 people into an outdoor baseball field living in tents with not enough food, showers, or toilets? You get a big, potentially dangerous mess. CNN reports that’s exactly what has happened south of the border in Tijuana.
This municipal sports complex in the Mexican border city of Tijuana is packed with people. But it’s been transformed from an athletic facility into something entirely different: a temporary home base for thousands of Central American migrants who say they have nowhere else to go…
Human rights groups describe conditions inside this makeshift shelter where migrants are waiting as squalid and unsanitary. And things could get far worse in the coming days, with rain forecast to drench the area. Tijuana’s mayor has deemed the situation a crisis and says his city needs more help from federal and international humanitarian officials to handle it...
Carlos Betanzos told CNN conditions inside the shelter are increasingly concerning.
“This shelter is not very clean inside. The bathrooms are very bad. They are sleeping on the floor. The sanitation is not very good,” said Betanzos, who’s working at the shelter as part of a medical mission of doctors and nurses from the Church of the Nazarene…
Many patients show symptoms of the flu, he said. Others have lice or stomach illnesses — all treatable.
But in such crowded and cramped conditions, he said, doctors are concerned about how quickly more serious illnesses could spread.
In fact, the situation is worse than lice and flu according to Tijuana’s Health Department. From Fox News:
The spokesman told Fox News that out of 6,000 migrants currently residing in the city, over a third of them (2,267) are being treated for health-related issues.
There are three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, four cases of HIV/AIDS and four separate cases of chickenpox, the spokesman said.
Tuberculosis could obviously spread in cramped conditions with no walls and health authorities are also concerned about the spread of hepatitis given the living conditions. Meanwhile, there’s also the problem of food. Mexico’s Navy has set up mobile kitchens and is feeding the caravan members twice a day, but the lines for food are long and often it’s not enough food for everyone. The situation does not seem sustainable for weeks, much less the six months it will take for the majority of these people to claim asylum in the U.S.
Tijuana’s Mayor says the city is spending $30,000 a day to help the migrants but that the city will run out of money very soon. And that’s before several thousand more migrants, the tail end of the caravan, arrive in coming days. Maybe marching to a dead end with no plan and no resources wasn’t such a good idea. Granted some of these people really are fleeing imminent violence back home but clearly that’s not true of all of them. Many have said they are coming to the U.S. for jobs or a better life. Is this a better life? It doesn’t look that way at the moment. Instead it looks like they have exchanged one bad situation for another.
Here’s an Australian report on the conditions. Below that is a German report published yesterday on what some migrants are thinking now that the wait to apply for asylum is looking like a long one.