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The Missing Lost Migrants
January 24, 2019

Help save the lives of migrants crossing the desert

type: Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by: Yair Oded

On any given day, countless migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. find themselves in a race for survival as they cross the arid desert spanning between Mexico and South-western U.S.

One of the most dangerous crossing points is the Sonora desert, which extends from northern Mexico into Southern Arizona. Over the past two decades, the Sonora has become infamous as the death toll of migrants dying while crossing it increased exponentially.

As government agencies are failing (or unwilling) to provide sufficient aid to migrants in distress, and in some cases reportedly abuse those they ‘catch’, numerous organizations have set out to extend a helping hand to those whose lives are at risk in Sonora.

One of these organizations is No More Deaths (NMD). Since 2004, NMD has been operating as a nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of migrants crossing the desert into Southern Arizona and advocate on their behalf.

NMD volunteers engage in a number of activities to decrease the number of migrants dying throughout their arduous journey to safety and ensure that their rights are acknowledged and respected.

Their campaigns include distribution of humanitarian aid (water, food, first aid kits, blankets, and clothes) along the remote Sonora areas in both Southern Arizona and mexico, provision of legal assistance to migrants applying for asylum or facing deportations, assistance with locating family members gone missing in the desert, and support of border communities.

NMD also document abuse of migrants by border patrol agents and government officials, work to increase public awareness of their plight, and actively promote human immigration policies and reforms.

Regrettably, the current administration (as well as various officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agencies in the area) is laboring to criminalize NMD volunteers who provide humanitarian aid on the ground for migrants in distress. Only recently, charges were pressed against nine different NMD volunteers who entered the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge in order to leave water and food for migrants.

Shortly before charges were pressed against him, NMD volunteer Scott Warren stated the following in an essay published in the South Atlantic Quarterly, “Humanitarian aid drops of water, food, socks, and blankets serve to acknowledge the struggle of migrants and force land managers and the public to recognize the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Simply put, the very presence of humanitarian aid forces land managers to publicly acknowledge a problem that they may wish to push into the remotest and least touristed areas of the desert, keeping it invisible to everyone but law enforcement personnel.”

Warren’s words highlight the importance and urgency of bringing the plight of migrants crossing the desert into the heart of national debate and public attention. Now is the time to ensure that migrant lives will no longer be viewed as expendable.

To learn more about their mission or how you can get involved, please visit No More Death’s Website. Their campaign can and should be supported from across the globe.

Image credit: Gregory Bull | AP