Environ 450 000 personnes migrent chaque année entre l'Amérique centrale et le Mexique. © Olivier Papegnies

Mexico and central America


people migrate between Central America and Mexico each year


of these migrants are women


of these migrants are children or adolescents

Humanitarian emergency in Mexico

These alarming statistics highlight the need for a humanitarian mission in Mexico, based focussing on the reception and access to care for migrant populations in Mexico.

Mexico and central America: one of the most violent regions in the world

Central America and Mexico, which are part of the Mesoamerican region, are considered the corridor with the highest permanent flow of migrants in transit in the world. Approximately 450,000 people migrate between Central America and Mexico each year.

Of the hundreds of thousands of people who migrate between Central America and Mexico each year, more and more families, including women and children, are fleeing poverty, violence and insecurity linked to organised crime, gang practices and, in some cases, law enforcement officials. The situation of widespread violence and impunity in the Mesoamerican region adds internal displacement to this transnational migration crisis.

More and more families, women and children are fleeing the insecurity.

Already repressive migration policies in Mesoamerica and border control have been tightened even further. In 2019, the US lobbied for and secured agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, all aimed at curbing irregular migration, and resulting in the closure of migration routes, the militarisation of borders, and increased deportations and detentions of asylum seekers.

This has resulted in migrants becoming extreme vulnerable, not only during their migration, but also during their forced return.

This large-scale migration crisis in Mexico demands humanitarian action.


Medical aid in Mexico

Already facing a sensitive humanitarian situation, Mexico is now facing a new crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the subject of medical aid to Mexico by Médecins du Monde.

The need for medical aid in Mexico 

In January 2020, a caravan of migrants arrived in Mexico and was contained and repressed by the National Guard, the military police, the navy and the federal police, as well as by agents of the National Migration Institute. These measures, intended to mitigate US pressure on Mexico, were deployed along the southern border, demanded that the Mexican government recognise the crisis arising from forced displacement in the region. There was also a call to respect the human rights of migrants and people in need of international protection.

A precarious situation with very significant humanitarian needs

In addition, due to changes in Mexican migration policies resulting from the agreement with the United States, since July 2019 thousands of African migrants (estimated at between 3,500 and 5,000) and Haitian migrants have been stranded in the city of Tapachula. The majority of this migrant population is in a precarious situation with very significant humanitarian needs.

Humanitarian emergency exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico

Mexico, like the rest of the world, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Migrant populations, already facing significant barriers to accessing healthcare, including physical and mental healthcare, saw their needs exacerbated, as they were not considered a priority group in the government’s response to the health crisis. These groups often face discrimination and language barriers (for those migrating from one continent to another), they are sometimes denied medical care and struggle to navigate Mexico's complex public health system. These people need specific and coordinated prevention and care.

In connection with the health of migrant populations and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency medical assistance must be deployed in Mexico.

On 24 March 2020, the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (SeGob) suspended deadlines for administrative procedures, including those carried out by the INM and the refugee application processes before the national refugee agency, COMAR, leaving people without legal certainty. Although asylum applications continue to be received, emails have been introduced as a means of following up procedures, while interviews are conducted by telephone. This has increased the perception of the slow pace with which COMAR responds to requests, leading to great despair, and forcing many to abandon their applications.

highly repressive migration policies and border control have led to a drastic increase in the number of expulsions from Mexico into Central America. ©Reuters
highly repressive migration policies and border control have led to a drastic increase in the number of expulsions from Mexico into Central America. ©Reuters

Our humanitarian aid in Mexico and Central America

Médecins du Monde France and Spain have been carrying out a joint humanitarian mission in Mexico since 2016, with the aim of ensuring access to healthcare and protection for migrants and internally displaced persons in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

 This humanitarian programme is organised around three main areas:


Supporting the capacity of public authorities to act

In response to emergencies, Médecins du Monde provides humanitarian aid to public authorities in Mexico to improve their responses to the needs of these populations and local NGOs. The aim of our NGO is also to promote the participation of these authorities in the public policy cycle, and to improve psychosocial support to the populations concerned.

This first area highlights the need for collaboration with local authorities as part of our humanitarian mission in Mexico.


Ensuring medical and psychological care: a cornerstone of medical aid in Mexico

Our NGO works with the most vulnerable people, i.e., unaccompanied children and adolescents, and people in situations of forced displacement within our partners’ programmes.



Based on research and the systematisation of experience, Médecins du Monde strives to encourage the creation or revision of public policies on access to healthcare for migrants and internally displaced populations. As a key element of our humanitarian work in Mexico, this advocacy aims to raise awareness, and to define the priorities of the action plan.

Three years after the programme began, Médecins du Monde now has partnership agreements with seven public bodies, 11 NGOs and seven “grassroots” organisations, made up of deported migrants and relatives of missing migrants, who are involved in several stages of the migration process.

In 2019, Médecins du Monde also responded to the humanitarian needs of the caravans of Central American migrants and stranded African migrants by providing rehydration, hygiene and medicines, and by making medical staff available to the bodies in charge of the situation, particularly the shelters, which were overwhelmed by these population flows.

In response to the pandemic and as part of its medical aid in Mexico, Médecins du Monde continued to provide medical care to the local population.

A local response to COVID-19 in Tapachula has been planned to reach vulnerable populations, including migrants, the homeless and other vulnerable populations.


In 2020, four humanitarian aid programmes were carried out in Mexico

Three of these humanitarian programmes in Mexico were aimed at migrant populations in the Tapachula region of Chiapas, taking a gender, psychosocial and intercultural approach. The objectives were to strengthen the capacity of the state and civil society in the area of healthcare, protection, and access to healthcare on the one hand, and to improve access to healthcare and mechanisms for protecting the rights of the migrant population on the other. As part of the COVID emergency, care was adapted, and information and awareness-raising work was carried out so that vulnerable populations could adopt the right behaviour to protect themselves from the virus.

The final part of our humanitarian mission in Mexico aims to improve the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in the state of Colima in collaboration with local civil society organisations and government bodies. It consists of improving the prevention of and response to gender-based violence by taking an integral approach to promoting and guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health rights in Colima.

In 2020

As part of our humanitarian mission in Mexico, we have:

  • Treated 1,489 migrants;
  • Carried out 746 psychosocial services consultations;
  • Carried out 34 activities to help people living on the streets;
  • Supported the training of seven local bodies.


our institutional support

Programme on access to healthcare for the indigenous communities of Los Altos de Chiapas, Mexico.
Emergency intervention following Hurricane Stan, Mexico.
Emergency intervention for victims of flooding in Tabasco, Mexico.
Launch of a programme on access to healthcare for immigrant sex workers and domestic workers, Mexico.
Opening of a regional programme to improve access to healthcare for migrants and people who have been expelled, El Salvador – Guatemala – Honduras – Mexico.
Four humanitarian aid programmes carried out in Mexico by Médecins du Monde

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