Shortly after 8:00 p.m. Thursday, there was an "unauthorized large-scale exit" of some 1,300 people who were being housed at the Siglo XXI Migration Station, located in Tapachula, Chiapas in Mexico.
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Cuban nationals, who make up the majority of the population in the station, were the primary participants in the event. Many of the station residents have claimed that inadequate conditions, especially overcrowding, was the reason behind the riot against agents of the National Institute of Migration (INM).
The station is built to occupy 600-900 people but currently holds over 2,000 with new detainees entering every day. As a result, some detainees are sleeping on the floors and have little access to proper hygiene. Cuban doctors who are detained in the facility have indicated that there is evidence of a tuberculosis epidemic, activist Luis Garcia Villagran said.
Allegedly, the mass exodus began after a fight between migrants that escalated into a brawl. As a result, there are some migrants who are badly injured and unable to leave. Villagran recounted receiving a call from one of the Cuban nationals in the station as the brawl was taking place. The activist confirmed that some people may have experienced irreversible injuries.
"At least 1,300 migrants of different nationalities escaped Thursday night of the Siglo XXI migratory station in Tapachula. @INAMI_mx staff could contain them. 700 decided to return by their own volition and 600 more have yet to be located @889Noticias"
In their desperate attempt to escape, many left behind shoes, bags and other personal items.
In the INM report, it was clarified that authorities do not possess containment equipment, so there was no engagement or confrontation with the people who left in droves. Even so, many were arrested in the vicinity and returned to the station.
"Protection measure for people who remain in the station and in the surrounding areas are being taken," informed a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior.
Most of the people who left, Villagran said, have been returning to the Siglo XXI Migration Station (about 700 have re-entered). Approximately 600 people have yet to be located.