More than 2,000 asylum seekers sheltering in a camp in Matamoros, at the Mexican border with Texas, are now dealing with even more fear and uncertainty as the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Mexico and the government fails to take decisive action. These people are living in tents packed closely together, unable to practice social distancing and with little access to water and sanitation or routine medical care, let alone COVID-19 services.
Meanwhile, the US closed its border with Mexico and cut off access to the asylum process in March. In response, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has increased activities in the Matamoros camp, providing mental health and medical services and health information about COVID-19. “People are responding positively to the advice and the infection prevention measures we bring,” says health promoter Ismael López. MSF is calling on the Mexican government to find safe solutions for vulnerable people at its border and the US to end its harmful practice of denying protection to people fleeing extreme violence in their countries.