Covid-19 looms over refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border

Since 2019, a crisis has been unfolding across the U.S.-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas. About 2,000 refugees, largely from Central America, have been stranded in a riverside encampment, wholly dependent on humanitarian groups for food and other basic needs. Feeding them before Covid-19 was a daunting task for the aid groups, but the pandemic has made food delivery considerably more complicated, says FERN’s latest story.

The encampment sits on a flood-prone stretch of the Rio Grande near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros. Officials and journalists who have visited the crowded tent city describe it as a humanitarian disaster. Residents bathe and wash their clothes in the polluted river. Many avoid the overflowing portable toilets. Doctors have treated influenza, pneumonia, toxoplasmosis, burns, malnutrition, and scabies.

As of earlier this week, the camp had no confirmed cases of Covid-19, although Matamoros itself had 272 cases. Health professionals worry that an outbreak in the tightly packed camp would be hard to contain.

Among the aid groups providing food, clean water, medical care, and legal assistance is a group of Texas volunteers called the Angry Tias and Abuelas (aunts and grandmothers) of the Rio Grande Valley.

In a recent interview with FERN, the Tias’ Elizabeth “Lizee” Cavazos talked to Barry Yeoman about the challenges of providing food for the camp as the coronavirus keeps volunteers stateside.

Read the full story at FERN.