Mexico: extreme heat, new deadly danger for migrants

Mexico: extreme heat, new deadly danger for migrants
Mexico: extreme heat, new deadly danger for migrants

The body of a man was found this week by security forces in a desert area near Ciudad Juárez in northern Mexico, on the border with the United States, where migrants hope to cross to the other side after a grueling journey.

The victim is a 45-year-old Mexican migrant from the state of Durango (north-central), who died of heatstroke due to prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, according to Mexican civil protection.

The body was discovered on Wednesday. A week earlier, authorities found the body of a woman who died of dehydration, also in a desert area of ​​Ciudad Juárez (in the northern state of Chihuahua), where temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees in recent days.

Victims of homicides, accidents, thefts, extortion, kidnappings, smugglers, people seeking asylum in the United States are now threatened by this heat wave which has been affecting a population for nearly three months. much of the territory of Mexico.

“It’s too hot,” notes Dioner José Romero, a 25-year-old Venezuelan. I feel a little dehydrated, it’s 43, 44, 45 degrees.”

“The sun is too strong. It’s not that I’m not getting used to it, but it’s something new for me. I feel like I’m suffocating a little,” adds his compatriot Nelson Ramos, in a reception center run by Catholics in Ciudad Juárez.

The heat wave has caused 155 deaths across the country since March, according to the authorities’ report updated this week.

“Heat and fatal outcome”

The Mexican’s body was discovered among bushes, in the sand and under a sun that forced agents of the National Guard and the National Institute of Migration (INM) to cover their heads with their own clothes while the forensic doctors were at work.

Around the body were empty bottles that the candidates for passage to the United States left behind while walking towards the Rio Bravo protected on the American side by a border wall several meters high.

The migrant was abandoned by the trafficker who claimed to be smuggling him to the United States, and who returned to bury him in the desert. Under pressure from relatives, he revealed the location of the body, according to testimonies collected by AFP.

As a result of their search, Mexican authorities found six other undocumented people, including one with symptoms of dehydration.

American border patrols indicate that since October they have recorded the deaths of 77 people in the sector of El Paso, the Texan city opposite Ciudad Juárez. Heat stroke and falling from a wall are among the main causes of death.

The director of civil protection in Ciudad Juárez, Mauricio Rodriguez, appeals to migrants “to prevent” them from moving “in high temperatures”.

“The impact of the heat can lead to a fatal outcome,” he adds when interviewed by AFP.

Nearly 1.3 million irregular migrants crossed Mexican territory between January and May of this year, according to figures from the National Institute of Migration (INM).

The majority of them come from Latin America or the Caribbean (Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Haiti) even if a total of 177 nationalities are represented.

During their crossing, which often includes the dangerous Darién forest on the border between Colombia and Panama, migrants are exposed to diseases (respiratory, skin, stomach problems, etc.) after traveling tens of kilometers in unsanitary conditions, according to a recent report by the NGO Doctors Without Borders.

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