More than two dozen tents were set ablaze at a make-shift migrant camp in a Mexican border city this week as hundreds of people continue to mass at the border to cross into the US.
The 25 tents and lean-tos were ignited Wednesday and Thursday at the sprawling camp in Matamoros, south of the border from Brownsville, Texas, according to witnesses.
The camp had been set up by mostly Venezuelan, Haitian, and Mexican migrants waiting to cross the border.
A witness said that the tents had been doused with gasoline before they were set on fire.
It’s not clear who set the fires, but some advocates blamed criminal gangs that regularly prey on desperate migrants, and others said that the arson may have been committed by some of the migrants themselves.
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, with the fires contained to a sparsely populated section of the camp that houses more than 2,000 asylum seekers, according to reports.
Many lost documents and other possessions, the reports said.
“The people fled as their tents were burned,” said Gladys Cañas, who runs the migrant advocacy group Ayudandoles A Triunfar. “What they’re saying as part of their testimony is that they were told to leave from there.”
Juan Jose Rodriguez, director of the Tamaulipas Institute for Migrants, a state agency that works with the Mexican federal government to help migrants, said that many are frustrated with a US Customs and Border Protection app that assigns spots for them to show up for asylum interviews with US border agents.
Migrants had been applying for 740 spots that are made available on the CBPOne app which allows them to enter the US legally for their appointment.
Earlier this week, a group of more than 200 migrants in Matamoros protested the long wait times for an interview by halting US-bound traffic on one of the international bridges, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
With Post Wires