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The Mexican shelter helping desperate Central American migrants

May 17, 2016
A Honduran migrant from San Pedro Sula, the world's murder capital, beside the train tracks in Guadalajara.

A Honduran migrant from San Pedro Sula, the world’s murder capital, beside the train tracks in Guadalajara.

With its leafy, brightly painted entrance, the new FM4 migrant shelter in Guadalajara is a welcome sight for the weary migrants making the hazardous journey from Central America and southern Mexico to the US.

Whether driven by economic desperation or displaced by the region’s rampant, gang-related violence, the majority of migrants have spent weeks clinging on to La Bestia, the freight train that runs to the US border.

Here they have a chance to rest, wash and eat, while volunteers from non-governmental organisation FM4 Paso Libre offer them clean clothes, medical attention, and legal and psychological counselling.

Volunteers cook meals for the migrants using ingredients donated by locals.

Volunteers cook meals for the migrants using ingredients donated by locals.

“This is the best shelter we’ve been through. They have my respect,” says Alvaro, a Honduran migrant who is particularly excited by the prospect of a shower and a change of footwear. “I haven’t taken my shoes off in two weeks and my feet smell awful.”

Alvaro, 26, and his cousin Emilio, 23, who asked that their names be changed to protect their identities, left home to seek work in the US.

Salvadoran businessman Eduardo Ramos is hoping to claim asylum in Mexico after being extorted and having his son kidnapped in his homeland.

Salvadoran businessman Eduardo Ramos is hoping to claim asylum in Mexico after being extorted and having his son kidnapped in his homeland.

Having lost what little money and possessions they had while fleeing immigration agents, the pair must now also dodge the ruthless gang members who demand $100 from every migrant boarding the train. Upon reaching the border, they intend to work in Mexicali, the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California, until they can afford a human trafficker, or coyote as they are known, to smuggle them across…

Click here to read this feature in full at Al Jazeera English.

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