Fire at migrant detention facility in Mexico kills 39 men

Another 29 detainees were injured in the blaze that broke out late on Monday at a holding centre in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

March 28: Dozens of people were killed and injured after a fire started in an immigration detention facility in northern Mexico near the US border.

The blaze occurred late Monday at a facility in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Images from the scene showed ambulances, firefighters and vans from the morgue around the smoke-covered facility with rows of bodies lying under shimmery silver sheets.

At least 39 people died in the fire. Twenty-nine injured people were taken to hospitals, said Mexico’s National Immigration Institute in a statement. The facility was holding 68 adult men from Central and South America, it said.

Mexico’s attorney general’s office launched an inquiry and has investigators at the scene, according to media reports.

Vinagly, a Venezuelan woman, stood outside the immigration centre, desperate for information about her 27-year-old husband detained there.

“He was taken away in an ambulance,” she told AFP news agency. “They [immigration officials] don’t tell you anything. A family member can die and they don’t tell you he’s dead.”

The governmental National Human Rights Commission had been called in to help the migrants. The agency said that it “energetically rejects the actions that led to this tragedy” without any further explanation of what those actions might have been.

Ciudad Juarez is a major crossing point for people entering the United States. Its shelters are full of migrants and refugees waiting for opportunities to cross, or who have requested asylum in the US and are waiting out the process.

The US administration of President Joe Biden has been hoping to stem the record tide of people undertaking often dangerous journeys organised by human smugglers to get to the US.

In February, Biden proposed new restrictions on asylum seekers, hoping to stifle the rush of people to the southern border when COVID-related controls are lifted.

The new rules say those who arrive at the border and simply cross into the United States will no longer be eligible for asylum. Instead, they must apply first for asylum in one of the countries they pass through to get to the US border or apply online via a US government app.

About 200,000 people try to cross the border from Mexico to the US each month. Most are from Central and South America and cite poverty and violence back home in requesting asylum.

A recent report by the International Organization for Migration said since 2014 about 7,661 people have died or disappeared en route to the US, while 988 perished in accidents or while travelling in subhuman conditions.

Leave Comment