Central Mexico Reports Rise of Narco-Refugees

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Officials in the relatively peaceful central Mexican state of Queretaro said the region has grown in recent years, due to an influx of so-called “narco-refugees” fleeing drug violence in more dangerous parts of the country.

According to Queretaro state government figures quoted by Milenio, 94,000 people have come to the state in the last five years, representing an average of 51 new arrivals every day and over two per hour.

The increase has been prompted by an exodus from other parts of the country, principally northern states, where drug-related violence has skyrocketed. Indeed, according to data from by Inegi, Mexico’s statistical agency, the population in the northern city of Juarez declined from 1.3 million to around one million in a period of two years.

The population increase is having an effect on local services and on employment in Queretaro, as Milenio reports. Currently, at least 60 percent of job applications in the state are made by individuals who have arrived from northern parts of the country, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (STPS).

Violence related to organized crime has also led to an increase in the number of people fleeing Mexico’s northern regions and attempting to cross the U.S. border. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 230,000 Mexicans currently qualify as having been displaced.

The issue of “narco-refugees” also exists in Central America, particularly Guatemala. A community of around 200 people in the north of the country sought refuge in Mexico in August, following a government operation against drug trafficking.

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