Illnesses on increase for migrants in Tijuana
Sickness has started setting in at a big migrant camp in Tijuana, Mexico, as Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum declared a humanitarian crisis and asked for federal and international assistance for the more than 6,000 Central Americans who have poured into the region in recent weeks.
At the Benito Juarez shelter in north Tijuana, more than 4,700 migrants are in tents and under blankets that fill surrounding streets.
Inside the shelter, Paula Cortes, 21, and her family huddled around 2-year-old Isaac, who lay feverish, listless and covered with blankets.
“He’s very, very sick,” his mother said in Spanish. “I’m too worried right now, but they won’t send a doctor in here. They told us to take him outside to the medical tent.”
The Office of the Secretary of Public Health for Baja California did not return a request for comment, but a shelter aid worker confirmed that the only option for the young parents is to bring Isaac to a medical tent set up outside Benito Juarez to deal with minor medical ailments.
Baja California’s government reported Friday that 818 respiratory infections had been reported at the camp. The government said 1,286 general medical consultations were provided to members of the migrant caravan.
Gastelum declared a humanitarian crisis Thursday, asking for more federal assistance and for international groups such as the United Nations to help with the crush of people.
“They have categorically omitted and not complied with their legal obligations,” the mayor said of the Mexican government. “So, we’re now asking them and international humanitarian aid groups to bring in and carry out humanitarian assistance.”
An International Red Cross tent set up Thursday was not present Friday afternoon, but there were in- ternational aid workers making their way around the streets surrounding Benito Juarez, checking on refugees camped out in the streets.
On Friday, Ingris Aquiles and her 3-year-old daughter, Brittany, waited in line for about an hour to get some cold medicine from the medical tent. The services are intended only for basic medical issues.
Aquiles said officials at the tent gave her and her daughter some cough medicine.
“We just have to wait it out,” Aquiles said, referring to making their way to the U.S. “President Donald Trump has asked us to wait here, so we are going to wait. What else can we do? We have plenty of time to wait.”
President Donald Trump has threatened to close the border if Mexico “cannot control the situation.”
Gastelum, pressing for more Mexican federal assistance, stressed the negative effects on Tijuana’s economy should the border completely close for days.
A woman washes a girl’s hair Saturday at a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, for migrants who traveled north with the Central American caravan.