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Migrants at US-Mexico border on hunger strike

November 30, 2018

Stuck at the border for three weeks, a handful of the 6,000 migrants in the caravan are fasting in protest. They want to put pressure on US and Mexican authorities to allow them to apply for asylum.

Migrants on the US-Mexico border at Tijuana, holding US and Honduran flags
Image: Reuters/K. Kyung-Hoon

Humanitarian crisis in Tijuana

A group of Central American migrants who are camped out at the US-Mexico border began a hunger strike on Thursday. They said they want to pressure the US to allow them to apply for asylum, but are also protesting Mexican authorities who are blocking the caravan's way north.

The group of protesters is part of the more than 6,000 migrants, mostly from Honduras, who have travelled by caravan towards the United States in the hope of applying for asylum and fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. They are now stuck at the border city of Tijuana, Mexico.

Many of those taking part in the hunger strike are women.

"Since no one is listening to us, we've decided as a women's movement... to launch a hunger strike," said Claudia Miranda, from Honduras, at an improvised press conference in Tijuana.

The women attempted to set up a picket in front of the border immigration offices, but were blocked by police.

"We're in really bad shape," Cindy Pinera told DW. "Everything is wet and that is hard for the babies. 

The migrants have been sleeping outdoors or in an overcrowded shelter in a sports facility for the last three weeks. Mexican authorities began transporting people to a new shelter, in the hopes of relieving the tense situation at the border and improving the migrants' living conditions.

US President Donald Trumphas been trying to introduce harsher immigration policies to ban migrants who enter the country illegally from applying for asylum. This has led many in the caravan to request humanitarian and working visas in Mexico instead.

A few hundred people had tried to breach the border on Sunday, but US border control fired tear gas into Mexico to stop them rushing the border fence.

"What the police are doing is unfair. The truth is we are fighting for our rights," said one of the migrants, Gerson Madrid, a 22-year-old Honduran.

The mayor of Tijuana told DW that his city was facing a humanitarian catastrophe. 

"It's people we are dealing with," said Juan Manuel Gastelum. "It's integrity, dignity. They need a place to sit and sleep. What would happen if someone started a riot? Who's going to be responsible?"

Tijuana: Migrants face tough choice

gs/rt (Reuters/AFP)

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