Nine out of 10 migrants seen by psychologists showed anxiety or depression symptoms caused by rape, assault or kidnapping, MSF survey finds

Central American migrants are suffering from record levels of mental health problems, amid a rise in violent attacks after a US-sponsored immigration crackdown forced them to use more perilous routes through Mexico.

Two-thirds of migrants interviewed at shelters across the country reported suffering at least one violent attack – such as assault, rape or kidnapping – during their journey, according to a survey conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and shared exclusively with the Guardian.

MSF runs three clinics in Mexico, providing care to injured and traumatized migrants with a team of doctors, psychologists and social workers.

Nine out of 10 migrants seen by MSF psychologists this year showed symptoms of anxiety or depression caused by violence and threats suffered during the journey – a three-fold increase since 2014.

The increase in violence against Central American migrants in Mexico is largely down to the Southern Border Plan, an immigration clampdown launched in July 2014 after a surge of unaccompanied minors and families at the US border.

American aid supported the deployment of thousands of Mexican troops to patrol alongside immigration agents. Checkpoints were set up along established migrant routes, forcing people to take even greater risks on their journey north.

Instead of traveling through southern Mexico by catching a ride on top of a freight train known as “La Bestia”, most now journey by bus, on foot or by sea along isolated routes where armed bandits, kidnappers and human traffickers operate with almost total impunity.



Central America's rampant violence fuels an invisible refugee crisis


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