Mexico: Migration crisis in Central America and Mexico – Emergency appeal n° MDR43008 – Country operational strategy – Mexico



Mexico Funding requirement: CHF 2.5 million
IFRC Secretariat Funding requirement: CHF 28 million
Federation-wide funding requirement: CHF 18 million


The migratory phenomenon in Mexico can only be understood if it is approached from the historical and social aspects that triggered massive population movements to the United States. The main causes are economic, social and political problems, armed violence and disasters.

The current migration crisis has worsened due to the impacts derived from COVID-19, which have aggravated pre-existing crises and led to a decrease in the living conditions of millions of people who are forced to leave their countries of origin.

According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, the 4,000 deaths at the Mexico-US border are nearly five times the combined death toll recorded on all other routes. The leading cause of death is drowning, at 1,750; victims of accidental death, road accidents, illness/lack of access to adequate health care, violence and lack of shelter, food or water.

Due to the pandemic and subsequent border closures, migration flows have stagnated. Since 2021, however, there has been a continued increase in irregular migration according to US and Mexican authorities, surpassing 2019 figures.

During the first months of 2022, detention events recorded by the Bureau of Customs and Border Control (CBP) increased sharply. In January, 154,812 detention events were recorded, including 165,894 in February and 221,303 in March. There was a 53.6% increase when comparing data for the first quarter of 2021 to the same period of the current year (in 2021 there were 352,790 events, compared to 542,009 in 2022).

Despite a decrease in the number of foreigners presented by the immigration authority in Mexico, in the first months of 2022, a year-on-year increase was observed of approximately 107.9%.

In June 2022, 53 migrants were found dead in an abandoned truck in the US state of Texas. This smuggling episode illustrates the need for security, information and protection for migrants throughout their journey, most of them starting in Central America. Among the dead were 27 Mexican nationals, 14 Hondurans, eight Guatemalans and two Salvadorans.

Migratory movements in Mexico are mainly along the traditional routes through the Gulf, the Pacific and the center of Mexico, but in recent times a great diversification of routes has been identified, extending to large areas of the country, including rural areas and hostile territories where the risk to people increases.

It is evident that the flows and means of transport in Mexico have changed, as areas that are not traditional transit areas for migrants have started to experience a steady increase, with most local governments lacking a clear strategy and resources to deal with changing flows.

Severity of humanitarian conditions

1. Impact on the accessibility, availability, quality, use and awareness of goods and services.

Migrants face many obstacles on their way, due to their legal status, stigma, discrimination, limited purchasing power, language and cultural barriers. As a result, they are excluded from basic services. As a result of these conditions, there are significant limitations in the ability to access services that would enable them to exercise their rights to health, protection, justice, food, housing and justice. education, among others.

In Mexican territory, the availability and type of services vary according to the social, political and economic context. However, in most cases, migrants cannot use public services due to the previously mentioned obstacles and, in some cases, are left at the expense of the actions of private actors or without any type of assistance and protection.

This difficult access to public and private services has worsened due to migration policies and migration containment strategies, since in most cases migrants find themselves without access to services that would allow them to live in dignity and far from dangerous conditions that affect their well-being. . Factors inherent to the migrant, such as the fear of being discovered by immigration authorities and of being deported, also generate worrying exclusion from the few services available.

2. Impact on physical and mental well-being

The adverse conditions in which people move and the restrictive migration policies that tend to limit the mobility of people have made the migration process more difficult as more and more dangerous routes, means of transport and methods are used. which put people at risk when crossing these countries to reach their destination. This situation aggravates the conditions of vulnerability, exposing them to health problems, exploitation, violence, extortion, human trafficking, sexual violence, kidnapping and forced recruitment by the perpetrators of violence. Mobility in such conditions has a strong impact on people’s integrity, profoundly altering their physical, mental and social well-being.

Given the volume of migratory flows and the difficult conditions of the Mexican territory, the humanitarian implications for migrants have increased the number of reported deaths. IOM reported that 651 people lost their lives trying to cross the border from Mexico to the United States – the highest figure since 2014. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the main causes of death for Mexicans attempting to cross the Mexico-US border as follows: dehydration, drowning, accidents, health complications and hypothermia.

Regarding the impact on mental well-being, studies on mental health and migration have indicated a high prevalence of mental disorders among migrants, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse disorders. The psychosocial impact suffered by migrant populations varies according to the realities on the ground, the social and state response to the different stages of the migration process, as well as the resources available to each to deal with the situation.

3. Risks & vulnerabilities

The most vulnerable migrant populations, i.e. those whose characteristics and/or conditions worsen their situation, include unaccompanied children, victims of gender-based violence, people suffering from illnesses, victims of crimes such as as mass abductions and human trafficking, the elderly and people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, among others. These populations find themselves in situations of vulnerability that prevent or hinder access to the realization of their most basic rights, in particular to health and food, which exposes them to substantial risks, considerably impacting their well-being. be physical and mental.

In terms of threats and social risks, different organizations have highlighted the significant violence and human rights violations suffered by migrants in transit through Mexico. Given the tightening and increase in migration policies and controls in border areas, the routes taken by migrants have also had to change, forcing them to choose increasingly long and dangerous areas, where they are subject to severe weather changes, aggression and abuse.

Another significant risk in transit has been the increase in violence in Mexico, due to the strengthening of groups that resort to violence. The incursion of these groups into the migratory context has made the migrant population more frequently victims of various crimes. Moreover, in recent years, these groups have been tasked with “regulating” and “organizing” the smuggling of migrants between Mexico and the United States, leading to increasingly dangerous and uncertain scenarios.

The above is combined with the racist, xenophobic and intolerant attitudes of some host communities, which only worsens the journey of migrants, as they are constantly victims of discrimination, segregation and violence.


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