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May 29, 2017
Tijuana shelters overwhelmed by Haitian migrants
Haitian emigrants at a Salesian shelter in Tijuana, October 2016. Photo courtesy of Agenzia Info Salesiana.
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.- The shelters in Tijuana that care for the migrant population are now in a state of emergency, severely overcrowded due to the arrival of thousands of Haitians seeking refuge in the United States.

According to the director of Migrant Care of Tijuana, César Aníbal, there are 3,200 foreign migrants in these 28 shelters, and the majority come from Haiti. Located across the US-Mexico border from San Diego, Tijuana is a destination for those seeking entry to the United States.

In an interview with Agenzia Info Salesiana, Fr.  Leonardo Martínez, in charge of the Salesian “Padre Chava” shelter, a center with 88 beds and a communal kitchen, said what is urgently needed is “a space to put thousands of people because more are going to continue to come.”

“All the shelters are overwhelmed, so there are times when some people sleep outside in the open,” he said.

This shelter currently houses 450 Haitian migrants, especially children and women.

When no space is available, the Salesians coordinate with the National Migration Institute to find a place in one of the hostels, which are for the most part Catholic.

Fr. Martínez also pointed out there is a health  emergency due to the lack of hygiene services.

Currently, the Salesian “Padre Chava” shelter is making constant appeals to the population to continue helping, asking for baby formula, diapers, food, blankets, and clothing.

The number of persons fleeing Haiti has mushroomed since Hurricane Matthew devastated the Caribbean nation in October. The storm destroyed homes in the country which had also been struck by a catastrophic earthquake in 2010, and a subsequent cholera outbreak.