Hundreds of children sleeping on the streets in Mexico City after devastating earthquake

Report
from Save the Children
Published on 22 Sep 2017 View Original

Hundreds of children are sleeping rough on the streets of Mexico City as residents try to get to grips with the destruction brought on by this week’s earthquake.

Makeshift tent cities have sprung up across the city, and children are being forced to spend the night in the open with little more than cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to protect them from the elements, with heavy showers battering the city overnight and further thunderstorms forecast for this weekend.

Save the Children’s teams estimate that overall more than 100,000 children in Mexico City have been badly impacted by the quake and are living in areas hardest hit where they are seeing collapsed homes and schools, experiencing regular power cuts and in extreme cases being forced to camp out near collapsed buildings.

The number of children badly impacted by the earthquake, however, is thought to be much larger. Further evacuations of buildings deemed unsafe are expected in Mexico City over the coming days and evaluations in Puebla and Morelos states, which have also been devastated by the quake, are now underway and slowly exposing the true extent of the damage.

“Many children are living through an extremely difficult situation right now. They have been left visibly distraught and some are telling our staff they are afraid of the earthquake and that the ground will start shaking again and destroy more homes and schools,” said Ivonne Piedras, Communications and Advocacy Officer for Save the Children in Mexico.

“We are seeing families that are sleeping on the street since their homes were destroyed or seriously damaged. To protect themselves, they are using plastic tarps and sleeping on the floor despite the heavy rains, and the cold evening temperatures, we have seen in the last 24 hours. In these conditions, children are at risk and we are really concerned for their safety and wellbeing.

“The rains are making the situation even more miserable but rescue efforts have been going on round the clock and the city has really come together to help those trapped under the rubble. However, time is running out and hope is quickly turning to deep anxiety. During this difficult time it is imperative that all efforts go to helping those affected. The situation should not be politicised in order to ensure that children and their needs are prioritised.”

The situation in the country is being further complicated by the damage suffered by the past earthquake that hit earlier this month and devastated the southern district of Oaxaca. In the city of Juchitan, which was particularly hard hit, 90,000 people are believed to have been affected with more than 30 percent of buildings estimated to be damaged. All schools have also been closed until further notice.

“Mexico has been through a lot in just two weeks, with two devastating earthquakes coming so close to one another,” said Piedras. “While all eyes are still rightly on rescue efforts we must also think about the long term situation and how we will help to rebuild communities that have been ripped apart and families who have lost everything. The international community cannot forget Mexico at this crucial time.”

Save the Children is responding in the capital and throughout the affected provinces. In Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos we are opening child friendly spaces, where we are providing games and emotional support to children to dealing with stress caused by the earthquake. In Oaxaca our teams are in five shelters, supporting almost 800 children.

For more information or to arrange interviews with spokespeople, please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk or +44 7831 650409