Migrants In Mexico Increasingly Face Kidnappings, Violence, Says MSF

A Wednesday report from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in southern Mexico suggests a rise in kidnappings and violence against migrants traveling to the U.S. border, Newsweek reports. Most disturbingly, the criminal groups carrying out the crimes — who are allegedly targeting migrants in the town of Tenosique, west of the Mexico-Guatemala border — are escalating the use of torture methods and their cruelty.

"In less than a month, the MSF team in Tenosique has treated 11 migrants who were victims of kidnapping and torture. This figure is the same as the total number of kidnapping cases treated in the first eight months of this year at this location," Gemma Pomares, MSF's head of medical activities in Tenosique, said in a statement.

Multiple survivors claim they were tied up for hours in high-temperature abandoned houses until they provided their kidnappers with phone numbers of their relatives, likely for extortion purposes. Such survivors were treated for gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and sexual assault. In some of the sexual assault cases, migrants said they endured electric shocks to their genitals and anus, while some were forced to watch others being raped.

Sergio Martín, MSF's general coordinator in Mexico, suggests that Donald Trump's pressure on the country to prevent migrants has forced some to take increasingly dangerous routes in their journey to the U.S.-Mexico border. For migrants that do reach the border, many must wait until the U.S. processes their immigration claims per the White House's "Remain in Mexico" policy. Per The Intercept, this policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), has also had destructive effects on migrants seeking asylum.

Migrants enrolled in the MPP face a judge in U.S. border cities before being sent to Mexican cities that The Intercept reports are "so violent" that the U.S. State Department suggests Americans either "limit travel to them" or "avoid travel entirely."

The policy is reported to expose migrants to kidnapping, rape, and murder, and such migrants are allegedly in more danger in these cities than U.S. citizens.

Although not all migrants experience violence due to the MPP, they are typically exposed to some form of it that can cause trauma. For example, one couple with a 5-year-old and 3-year-old daughters were in Juárez while waiting for their asylum claim when they discovered something particularly gruesome.

"We went downtown one day to enjoy ourselves, and we passed a garbage can with a smell," the father said.

"I looked inside and there was a corpse covered in blood. My kids asked what I'd seen. 'Oh, nothing,' I said."