As Mexico receives a record number of asylum requests, IRC warns that food, shelter and protection mechanisms remain critical needs

ByInternational Rescue Committee

As Mexico receives a record number of asylum requests, IRC warns that food, shelter and protection mechanisms remain critical needs

After Mexico reached a historic high in asylum claims, with almost 137,000 as of the end of November, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) alerted that food, shelter, and health care are among the priority needs of people on the move as funding decreases and service providers work at maximum capacity.

In October, the IRC conducted an assessment to identify critical needs and risks faced by people on the move in Mexico. After interviewing representatives from 430 households in Ciudad Juárez, Matamoros, Mexico City, Tapachula, Tijuana, and Veracruz, the IRC found that:

  • Access to reliable information is a top priority, which can enable people to find ways to reach essential services. Despite most people reporting they had at least one cell phone per family, they shared that they mainly received information through unofficial sources, such as Facebook (33%), WhatsApp (24%), and from other people on the move (15%). Only 5% said they considered service providers as their primary source of information.
  • Food was the main need expressed by survey respondents. Almost 39% of respondents said that their families had survived on one meal a day during the past weeks.
  • The lack of safe accommodation alternatives represented an obstacle to covering basic needs. Among the surveyed population, only 32% had access to a shelter, 25% rented, 17% stayed in a camp or another informal accommodation arrangement, and 25% lived on the streets. Not having access to a shelter implied challenges to access other basic services that would usually be available in these spaces.

Rafael Velásquez, Country Director for the IRC in Mexico, said: “Mexico’s strategic role in the response to the displacement crises from all over the world is undeniable. The country has tried to offer protection measures for both, thousands of asylum seekers trying to make it to the the search for safety–including displaced Mexicans–as well as for many who consider it a potential destination. Unfortunately, as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving and transiting throughout the country increase every year, the funding for the humanitarian responses decreases while the service providers continue to operate beyond maximum capacity. We call on the international community to step up the support to strengthen the protection systems in Mexico.”

The IRC’s assessment also identified that at least half of people reported not feeling safe in Mexico, and 4 in 10 had been victims of at least one crime while in the country, such as robbery, extortion, or kidnapping. The main safety risk identified by men and women was related to kidnappings or forced disappearance (18% and 16% respectively).