The facts about the humanitarian crisis in Mexico and Central America

By Doctors Without Borders

February 07, 2019 "Information Clearing House" -   US Administration officials are sounding the alarm about a humanitarian crisis along the border with Mexico to justify building a border wall. As a medical humanitarian organization treating people in Honduras, El Salvador, and along the migration route through Mexico, we can be absolutely sure of this: a wall will do nothing to address the humanitarian crisis in Central America driving large numbers to flee north in search of safety and security.

A humanitarian crisis demands a humanitarian response.

In a surprising twist, the president, vice president, and the secretary of homeland security have recently seized on data from a 2017 report by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which reveals the extreme violence suffered by our patients in their home countries and along the migration route, in order to make the case for tough border enforcement. Administration officials are essentially cherry-picking our data to justify policies that would trap vulnerable people in places where their lives are at risk—and they are ignoring our recommendations about how to address the very real medical needs of migrants and asylum-seekers.

For example, on January 19, President Donald Trump highlighted this alarming statistic during his address to the nation presenting the need for a border wall: “One in three women is sexually assaulted on the dangerous journey north."

In a USA Today op-ed published on January 16, Vice President Mike Pence wrote, “According to Doctors Without Borders, 70 percent of illegal immigrants report being victims of violence along the journey at the hands of human traffickers, drug smugglers, and vicious gangs. About a third of women are sexually assaulted on their way to America.”

Even earlier, on January 7, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen highlighted the danger of sexual violence during a media briefing: “We have 30 percent of women who are raped on this journey, and that’s actually not our stat; that’s Doctors Without Borders.”   

By highlighting the dangers facing migrants, the Administration is trying to make the case that a border wall would reduce the threat and strengthen US national security. They are now distorting and mischaracterizing the data from our report to push for policies that run counter to everything we believe in.

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