at least 53 migrants killed in truck accident

It is a new terrible tragedy of illegal immigration in Mexico, a country more than ever caught between the migratory pressure of its southern neighbors and the firmness of the United States: a truck accident has caused the death of at least 53 migrants in an irregular situation, Thursday 9 December.

Forty people were also injured, including three very seriously, in this accident in the state of Chiapas bordering Guatemala, south-eastern Mexico, according to a report from the local prosecution. The migrants were crammed into a truck, according to initial explanations to the Civil Protection press. The speeding truck is said to have overturned after hitting a wall, according to local media.

“According to the testimonies of the survivors, most of them are from Guatemala”, said the regional director of Civil Protection, Luis Manuel Garcia. Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei has pledged “All necessary consular assistance, including repatriation” in a message of condolences and solidarity on Twitter.

“I deeply regret the tragedy caused by the overturning of a truck in Chiapas transporting migrants from Central America. It’s very painful “, tweeted his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.

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A passage to the United States

The National Migration Institute (INM) said in a statement that “Visitor cards for humanitarian reasons” would be offered to survivors, in addition to humanitarian aid (food, accommodation). The INM will coordinate with local and federal authorities the efforts “To provide consular assistance, identify bodies, cover funeral costs”. The Red Cross, firefighters and ambulances were deployed on the spot. The injured were transported to private and public hospitals in the area.

The accident took place in the state of Chiapas, the gateway for migrants from Central America (mainly Honduras and El Salvador) in the hope of reaching the United States. Transporting them in trucks is one of the usual methods used by smugglers. Other migrants prefer to cross the country in a “caravan” on foot, and take the opportunity to claim their rights.

“We need migratory alternatives and legal avenues to avoid tragedies like this one”, said the Mexican branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in its message of condolence.

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“Stay in Mexico”

A traditional passageway, Mexico is faced this year with record arrivals of migrants coming not only from Honduras and El Salvador but also from Haiti. From January to October, the country registered 108,195 asylum applications, a record, according to the latest official figures. For its part, the United States is showing firmness with regard to migrants. Their journey is “Deeply dangerous and will have no success” had warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a trip to Mexico in early October.

The accident took place the same day the first two migrants were returned from the United States to Mexico under a program put in place during the time of former President Donald Trump, suspended by Joe Biden, but reactivated by decision of the American Supreme Court.

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Migrants must wait in Mexico for a response to their asylum request in the United States, according to this program called “Quedate en Mexico” (Rest in Mexico). Another UN agency, the International Office for Migration (IOM), said it was urgent to end “As soon as possible and definitively” to this program “Inhuman and contrary to international law”.

The World with AFP