Photos

Migrants camped under blankets and plastic endure miserable conditions in Tijuana

Aid workers and humanitarian organizations are expressing concern about unsanitary conditions at the sports complex in Tijuana where more than 6,000 Central American migrants — including over 1,000 children — are packed into a space adequate for half that many.

Aid workers express concern as rain turns shelter in open-air stadium to mud

Migrants walk amidst flooded tents after heavy rains poured down on a sports complex sheltering thousands of Central Americans, in Tijuana, Mexico, on Thursday. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

Aid workers and humanitarian organizations are expressing concern about unsanitary conditions at the sports complex in Tijuana where more than 6,000 Central American migrants are packed into a space adequate for half that many people and where lice infestations and respiratory infections are rampant.

(Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

As a chill rain fell, the dust that coated everyone and everything in the open-air stadium turned to mud Thursday, making the already miserable conditions worse. 

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

On one side of the complex, a mud pit grew where people took outdoor showers next to a line of foul-smelling portable toilets.

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The large wedding-style tent pitched in the middle of a sports field and several smaller ones with a capacity for just a few hundred people were far from adequate for the swelling number of migrants who keep arriving daily.

(Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

The vast majority of the migrants were camped in makeshift enclosures made of lashed blankets and sheets of plastic or flimsy tents. Another 200 people slept on sidewalks because they couldn't find space in the complex or decided it was more comfortable outside.

(Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

"The truth is there is no room there inside. We asked yesterday," said Astrid Yajaira of Sonsonate, El Salvador, who spent the night with three friends on a sidewalk in front of a warehouse across the street from the stadium.

She had a sore throat and had hoped to find shelter inside.

(Hannah McKay/Reuters)

'Deeply concerned' for children

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, said it was "deeply concerned" for the well-being of more than 1,000 migrant children waiting in Tijuana or still moving north through Mexico.

According to local officials, of the more than 6,150 migrants at the shelter as of Wednesday, 1,068 were children.

(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

"These children have limited access to many of the essential services they need for their well-being, including nutrition, education, psychosocial support and health care," UNICEF said in a statement. 

(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Making the situation worse, the agency's workers had to remove the colouring books, crayons and few other materials they had for children late Wednesday, because the agency lost its space on a baseball field to the arrival of more migrants.

(Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

'Very few hygiene norms'

(Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

Miguel Angel Luna Biffano, a health volunteer with the Nazarene Church Compassion Ministries, which has been accompanying the caravan since the migrants crossed into southern Mexico, said his aid group was dealing with lice infestations as well as many respiratory infections.

(Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

"There's overcrowding and very few hygiene norms,' Luna said. "With the water and the cold there are going to be too many infections, a lot of fevers. There is going to be a need for antibiotics."

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Working to open a new shelter

Before the rain began, the Tijuana government distributed sheets of plastic to help the migrants prepare their makeshift shelters of intricately hung blankets and tarps. Tijuana officials have said they are working to open a new shelter, but they haven't said when or where, though it was likely to be much farther from the border.

(Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

Luna said opening another shelter could help, but he wasn't sure how many of the migrants would go.

(Hannah McKay/Reuters)

"The thing is, they don't like to separate from the larger group and the border here," he said, noting that the migrants feared being tricked and deported. "They prefer to suffer to be here."

A sign in Spanish written by a migrant in a temporary shelter in Tijuana reads: "I walked thousands of kilometers to escape violence. I wish to work and pay taxes." (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters