Mexico’s southwestern Guerrero state is not only facing the COVID-19 pandemic but also an increase in violence that is affecting the physical and mental health of thousands of people.
For those living in isolated communities, access to health services is either very limited or nonexistent due to confrontations between more than 40 armed groups vying for control of the territory. Parts of the Guerrero mountains have become battlefields where people are trapped or forced to flee amid the crossfire. Thousands of families have been displaced.
Since 2016, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile clinics have traveled to some of these communities to provide medical and mental health care. Our teams have cared for hundreds of families affected by violence in different regions of the state.
“The epidemic of violence is something that is affecting different communities, mainly due to clashes between organized crime groups over the cultivation of poppies and avocados. These are two [major sources] of income, and the groups fight over that income,” says Alberto Macín, manager of MSF’s mental health activities in Guerrero.
A few days ago, MSF assisted people who had been forced to leave their community in the Tierra Caliente region at the beginning of 2020. In July, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents were able to return to rebuild their town after a truce was called between the armed groups.