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07 September 2016

African and Haitian migrants cross the Suchiate river at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Local rafters charge them eight times the normal rate. Photo: Encarni Pindado for the Guardian

Passage Through Mexico: The Global Migration to the US

The sun has barely risen and already hundreds of migrants are gathered outside the vast white and green immigration detention centre, hoping to get through its gates.

Most have travelled thousands of miles on foot, by boat and bus from South America, but few here speak Spanish. In front of the locked gates near Mexico’s southern border, it’s an eclectic mix of French, English, Creole, Urdu, Lingala and Somali.

This eclectic crowd is part of a huge surge in African and Asian migrants traversing the Americas in hope of a better life in the US. The circuitous passage means paying thousands of dollars to coyotes – or people smugglers – to cross 10 countries, where overcrowded fishing boats, mosquito-infested jungles, armed bandits and immigration agents await.

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The Boko Haram conflict affecting the Lake Chad Basin area, particularly in northeast Nigeria, has resulted in large scale displacement and a significant protection crisis. In Nigeria alone, over 2.2 million people are internally displaced, including many living in temporary sites without basic services, where conditions fail to meet the most basic standards. These numbers continue to grow.

The leading agency for emergency response in Nigeria, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have been on the ground addressing the needs of the displaced from the onset. International agencies, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are supporting the Government’s response.

IOM has so far provided humanitarian support to nearly 325,000 people in northeast Nigeria through provision of non-food items, shelter, psychological first aid, camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) and training to meet SPHERE minimum standards in humanitarian relief. Additionally, significant resources have been mobilized over the past 18 months with steps taken by IOM to deploy additional technical experts in the area of shelter, camp management and displacement tracking.

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A young Polish refugee assisted by the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM), now IOM, carries a small friend along with him. Follow us.

Migration in the News
  • UNHCR reported that the UN summit later this month to address large movements of refugees and migrants could potentially be a “game changer” that will enhance protection for those forcibly displaced and otherwise on the move.

  • Reuters reported that Spanish authorities said on Tuesday they had rescued 177 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa on six boats off the southern Mediterranean coast.

  • Sputnik reported that more than 90,100 Iraqis were displaced from Salah al-Din and Ninewa governorates between 16 June and 5 September 2016.

  • Jakarta Post reported that only 99 Rohingya refugee seekers remain in East Aceh’s refugee camp out of the 409 that arrived on shore last year, an official has confirmed.

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  • NPR reported that Costa Rica has recently become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of migrants from South America and elsewhere who are hoping to reach the US.

Media Contacts

For comment / interviews on today's news, please go to the contact(s) listed at the end of each press briefing note.
For other information please contact the IOM Media & Communications team here