Photo: Migrants in Mexico
Amnesty International has launched a new campaign to call attention to the plight of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, urging the public to donate socks to help protect their feet during the perilous journey.
The London-based rights group said in a statement Thursday that it conducted a survey of Central American migrants, thousands of whom make their way across the region each year in hopes of reaching the United States, asking them what one thing they would take if leaving the country.
“Most migrants told us that they had no possessions with them at all because they expected to be attacked and robbed on the journey and that anything of value would increase their chances of kidnap,” Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International, said.
“Much to our surprise, the migrants did tell us that one thing they desperately needed on their journey were socks. On journeys that can be up to hundreds of miles, untreated blisters risk lives and a fresh pair of socks can make all the difference,” he added.
In a three-minute video for the new campaign, AI researchers asked Mexico City residents the same question they asked the migrants and their answers - ranging from “identity cards” to “tabasco sauce” - contrasted sharply.
The migrants’ plea for socks led to the launch of a Web site - sendsocks.org - where the public can watch the campaign video and then buy that clothing item for donation to a migrants’ shelter in Mexico.
AI said that during the trek the migrants face the risk of kidnapping, rape and murder at the hands of criminal gangs, often in collusion with authorities, and that those responsible for the abuses are rarely brought to justice.
“Migrants are determined to risk all in the hope of a better future, but the reality is that for many the journey through Mexico - one of the most dangerous journeys in the world - will be devastating,” Knox said.
He added that despite the government’s promises to provide greater protection for migrants, “laws and other official measures are having little or no impact and systematic abuses of migrants continue unabated.”
“We hope this new campaign will put pressure on the government to turn promises into action.”
AI says there are no official figures on the number of migrants traveling illegally through Mexico each year, although 60,000 were detained and repatriated in 2011. The vast majority of these people are Central American, mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua.
Mexico is one of the only countries that is both a destination and transit route for migrants, as well as a starting point for thousands of Mexicans who try to cross the border to the United States in search of work, AI says.
Please donate at http://www.sendsocks.org/