Socks appeal! Campaign launched to highlight plight of Mexico migrants

Donations of a humble, yet vital, item of clothing are being asked for by Amnesty International to highlight the plight of the thousands of migrants travelling across Central America every year.

When Amnesty International asked migrants what one thing they would take if leaving the country, the answer was: “socks”.  

Rupert Knox, Mexico Researcher at Amnesty International, said: “Most migrants told us that they had no possessions with them at all because they expected to be attacked and robbed on the journey and that anything of value would increase their chances of kidnap.

“Much to our surprise, the migrants did tell us that the one thing they desperately needed on their journey was socks. On journeys that can be up to hundreds of miles, untreated blisters risk lives and a fresh pair of socks can make all the difference.”

In a three-minute campaign video filmed in Mexico, members of the public are asked: “If you had to leave your country and could only take one thing, what would it be?” Residents of Mexico City gave answers ranging from ‘identity cards’ to ‘tabasco sauce’.

Their responses starkly contrasted with those given by migrants, whose request for socks has led to the launch of a website - sendsocks.org - where the public can watch the campaign video and make donations.

Driven by grinding poverty and insecurity, Central American migrants travel north to Mexico in the hope of eventually reaching the USA. An estimated 20,000 a year face kidnap, rape and murder at the hands of criminal gangs, often in collusion with authorities, during their passage through Mexico.

“Migrants are determined to risk all in the hope of a better future, but the reality is that for many the journey through Mexico - one of the most dangerous journeys in the world - will be devastating,” said Rupert Knox.

The Mexican government has failed to live up to promises to protect migrants from widespread human rights abuses.

There are no official figures for the numbers of migrants travelling illegally through Mexico but 60,000 were detained and repatriated in 2011. In February 2011, the National Human Rights Commission reported that 11,000 migrants had been kidnapped in the previous six months.

Throughout 2011, migrant rights defenders have been subject to attack, death threats and intimidation in reprisal for their efforts to support migrants.

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