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These are the hellish conditions that are driving members of the Central American migrant caravan to finally turn their backs on their US dream – by ‘self-deporting’.
Despite traveling as much as 4,500 miles – much of it on foot – hundreds of migrants have already accepted free flights home rather than stay longer in the filth-strewn sports complex that has become their temporary home in Tijuana, Mexico.
Lice and respiratory infections are becoming endemic inside the Benito Juarez sports complex and health workers warn that it’s a matter of ‘when, not if’ an outbreak of serious disease sweeps the scruffy labyrinth of tents and tarps sheltering an estimated 6,000 people.
Tijuana’s Health Department revealed on Thursday that there are cases of migrants suffering from tuberculosis, chickenpox, skin infections, and there is now a risk of an hepatitis outbreak due to the squalid conditions.
So far, there have been three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, four of chickenpox, and four cases of HIV/AIDS.
The tumbledown facility a hundred feet from the Mexico-US border has become the last refuge for members of the snaking human convoy who fled gang-plagued Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador around six weeks ago, igniting a political storm and prompting President Donald Trump to send US troops to the border.
But with Trump’s continuing tough rhetoric and US immigration ‘metering’ the number of asylum applications to between 40 and 80 cases per day, the reality of having to spend weeks or even months camped out on blankets and rags in a fetid limbo is hitting home.
Mexican officials revealed that around 200 migrants volunteered this week for repatriation, with more than a hundred having already flown home from Tijuana’s airport Monday.
A further 98 were forcibly removed after Sunday’s violent clashes at the border when US agents were accused of firing tears gas on a crowd of migrants, including kids.
Clara Daniela, 17, fled El Salvador when her cousin was killed for refusing to join a gang, traveling for 45 days with her partner Jose Hernandez, 25, and one-year-old Fernando, to reach Tijuana.
‘We sleep in the open. It’s very cold at night. We can’t even make a tent as there is nothing to attach it to,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘The smell is so bad. There is no privacy for women when you take a shower.
‘There are organizations here helping people who have had enough to go home, they take you on a bus and put you on a plane – it’s easy.
‘We will try to stay for now but it’s becoming more and more tempting to go.’
Honduran national Fanny Roxana Pavon, 25, has been on the road five months but her priority is the health of five-year-old daughter Elizabeth Munoz.
‘The bathrooms are terrible. The camp is a bad environment for children and there is so much dust. And if it’s bad now, wait until it rains,’ she told DailyMail.com.
There is near constant soundtrack of coughs and sneezing and the stench from the toilets wafts across the entire camp, mingling with the smell of rotting trash, tobacco and occasional wafts of cannabis smoke
Tijuana’s Health Department revealed on Thursday that many are suffering from tuberculosis, chickenpox, and other skin infections. So far, there have been three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, four of chickenpox, and four cases of HIV/AIDS. Pictured in the background is sign saying ‘no spitting’
‘We cannot stay very much longer like this – I just hope they will process our paperwork soon.’
DailyMail.com toured the crumbling Benito Juarez sports complex Wednesday where thousands of migrants have been bedded down for the past two weeks under tents or makeshift canopies built from ropes and plastic sheeting. Continue Reading