Dan Curran for UMCOR
UMCOR Grants to Support Programs that Provide an Oasis Along the Way for Migrants Traveling Near the U.S.-Mexico Border
Refugees Fleeing Persecution and Violence to be Helped by
UMCOR-Supported Programs in Tijuana and Apaxco
ATLANTA (Dec. 8, 2018) – With a local Mexican state’s government reporting that there are more than 6,000 migrants and asylum seekers stuck in just one city along the United States – Mexico border, local resources are being overwhelmed and refugees are still in great need. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is committed to supporting groups working to assist individuals fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. UMCOR leaders recently approved $144,793 in grants that will increase the capacity of local partners to serve migrants, resulting in more immediate relief and an oasis along the way.
Several organized groups from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador traveled north to Mexico and the United States beginning in mid-October. Widely referred to as “caravans,” the people are fleeing persecution and violence and need international protection.
“Even though it is fading from the news headlines, the situation along the United States – Mexico border continues to require our attention and support for groups working to help people fleeing persecution,” said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of United Methodist Global Ministries and co-executive director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). “Our local contacts report that the number of migrants is expected to grow and with winter here, they need a place to eat, rest and receive medicine. We are working to help provide an oasis along the way for these people in need of international protection.”
Currently, approximately 7,000–9,000 people of the caravans are spread along the United States and Mexico border. Approximately 6,000 are housed at the “El Barretal” shelter in Tijuana where Marines of the Mexican military have installed two mobile kitchens to serve the 1,400 children, 1,200 women and about 3,500 men. The military’s kitchen facilities can serve up to 3,500 people per day, meaning 2,600 people in El Barretal still need access to food.
In recognition of the Methodist Church of Mexico’s work with the migrants of the caravan, the Mexican military, state government and the local municipality have reached out to the MCM and asked them to help the migrants. They have given the MCM a booth inside “El Barretal” to assist with food, organize medical brigades, and offer personal hygiene items such as sanitary napkins, toilet paper, diapers, wipes clothing, and more. A $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR will fund the initial stages of the MCM program that is expected to run for six months.
Migrants from Mexico often use train tracks to map out their journey North. Several Methodist churches located along the train route have developed ministries to meet the needs of these migrants.
For years, the Methodist Church of Mexico in Apaxco has offered migrants dinner and breakfast, a place to sleep and shower, toiletries and clothes. Due to the recent influx of migrants, the ministry in Apaxco is overwhelmed and has asked UMCOR for assistance.
A $36,550 grant to Methodist Church of Mexico in Apaxco will enable them to provide dinner and breakfast, hats and first aid supplies for 1,000 people. In addition, this grant will provide money for the church to install the toilets and shower equipment that have been donated by another partner.
According to recent figures released by the Mexican state of Guerrero, there are 6,192 migrants and asylum seekers in Tijuana, located 15 miles from San Diego. They are expected to have a long stay in Tijuana during their petition to enter the United States. Due to the influx of migrants all current infrastructure to provide for migrants in Tijuana is overwhelmed.
“Tijuana has a long history of relating to migrants and the current situation is chronic with a need for immediate relief but also sustainable programming,” said Jack Amick, director of Sustainable Development for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. “An UMCOR-funded kitchen run by the Methodist Church of Mexico A.R. will allow for the church to build its capacity, strengthen migration programming and provide another viable source of aid for a community that is overwhelmed with migrants.”
The Methodist Church of Mexico A.R. has declared a state of emergency, asking for donations and supplies. Through conversations with UMCOR, the Methodist Church of Mexico A.R. in the Northwest Conference has decided that the best way to serve their community and these migrants is to increase their capacity to serve. Specifically, they have chosen to launch a fully equipped kitchen and to hire staff that will prepare meals for migrants three times per day. This $98,243 grant from UMCOR will not only address those from the current caravans, but other migrants who travel to Tijuana annually in hopes of crossing over to the United States.
For more information about UMCOR’s work on these and other issues visit www.UMCOR.org.
About the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
Founded in 1940, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the global humanitarian aid and development agency of The United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States and its territories. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering—whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster— with open hearts and minds to all people. UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own. UMCOR works through programs that address hunger, poverty, sustainable agriculture, international and domestic emergencies, refugee and immigrant concerns, global health issues, and transitional development. Learn more at www.UMCOR.org, www.Facebook.com/UMCOR and www.twitter.com/UMC_UMCOR.