UN refugee agency to install housing units in Mexico

July 27, 2020 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency said Monday it is setting up 48 temporary pre-fab housing units for refugees and asylum seekers in Mexico.

Thousands of asylum seekers have had to stay in Mexico while they await hearings on U.S. asylum claims.

Migrants have been caught between the twin dilemmas of the coronavirus pandemic and bad weather due to former hurricane Hanna. Some of the structures will be sent to cities on the Texas border like Reynosa and Matamoros that were lashed by rain from Hanna.

Three people were reported missing Monday after flooding in Reynosa, and two died and three others disappeared in and around the city of Monterrey.

Other units will go to border cities further west, like Ciudad Acuña and Tijuana.

The U.N. agency known as UNHCR says it is also donating some of the steel-frame structures with plastic roofs and walls to be used near clinics or hospitals to house patients or medical services in southern Mexico. Such units have long been used in Africa and other places in the world.

The U.N. said the mostly one-room Refugee Housing Units, or RHUs as they are known, are needed because some traditional migrants shelters in Mexico have closed the doors to new entries due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

A migrant shelter in Caborca, Sonora run by the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras reported its first death of a migrant from COVID-19 last week.

The group said in a statement that the Honduran migrant, 47, died Thursday after returning to the shelter from a local hospital.

Caborca is a town near the border with Arizona that has long served as a jumping-off point for migrants hiking into the desert to cross the border.