Immigration Policies Worsen Health Crisis for Refugees: Report

Image: Border Patrol agents watch over immigrants
U.S. Border Patrol agents watch over immigrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 3, 2017, near McAllen, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

 New, harsher U.S. refugee policies are only worsening an already bad humanitarian crisis in Central America, the medical group Doctors Without Borders said Thursday.

And the Mexican government is also doing little to help them, the group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF, said in a new report. Sometimes Mexican security forces are themselves attacking the refugees and raping women, for instance, the group said.

Virtually all the refugees seen at the group’s clinics over the past two years had lived through a violent event, either at home or on their journey north, MSF said.

“Murder, kidnappings, threats, recruitment by non-state armed actors, extortion, sexual violence, and forced disappearance — these are the realities of war and conflicts also faced by people in this region of Central America,” said Bertrand Rossier, MSF’s head of mission in Mexico.

“We see gunshot wounds, blunt force trauma … mutilation of body parts during kidnappings, for example, breaking of bones, wounds from being thrown out of trains,” said Carla Denti, medical coordinator for MSF Mexico.

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But the refugees and immigrants repeatedly said that what they are fleeing is even worse, and they are willing to take the risks. MSF said governments need to recognize this.

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