230,000 people displaced by Mexico’s drug violence, study says


GENEVA (BNO NEWS) — Around 230,000 people have been displaced in Mexico because of drug violence, and roughly half of them have crossed the border into the United States, according to a new study from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The Geneva-based organization said drug violence has caused forced displacement, yet the Mexican government has not systematically collected figures to indicate its scale.

In 2010, most internally displaced people originated from the northern states bordering the United States, where trafficking routes are concentrated, such as Chihuahua and Tamaulipas. An estimated 115,000 people are internally displaced, predominantly in the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila and Veracruz, according to the report based on studies by local researchers.

“There have been few attempts to define the scale of displacement in small rural towns in Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, even though the violence is believed to be even more intense in those rural areas. Furthermore, forced displacement has taken place alongside strong economic migration flows, making it harder to identify and document,” the report said.

In Tamaulipas, the Cartel del Golfo and the cartel known as the Zetas terrorized the civilian population in an attempt to gain territorial control, forcing people to flee. In the state’s Ciudad Mier, a small town near the border with the United States, as many as 400 people fled to the nearby town of Ciudad Miguel Alemán after the Zetas issued an open threat to all the inhabitants in November 2010.

In Chihuahua, the Municipal Planning Institute reported last year that there were up to 116,000 empty homes in Ciudad Juárez due to turf battles between the Cartel de Sinaloa and the Cartel de Juárez.

“In 2010, federal authorities did not acknowledge, assess or document the needs of the people displaced, instead focusing their efforts on fighting the drug cartels,” the report added. 

According to government figures, a total of 15,273 drug-related crimes occurred in Mexico in 2010. Fifty percent of them were concentrated in three northern states: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas. More than 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began the fight against organized crime in December 2006.

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