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Mexican authorities find 19 'kidnapped' Mauritanians in US border town

Authorities provide Mauritanians and three Senegalese with humanitarian residency, access to employment and health services
A Mexican soldier walks along a section of the US-Mexico border fence in Sonoyta, on 16 February 2017.
A Mexican soldier walks along a section of the US-Mexico border fence in Sonoyta, in 2017 (AFP)

A group of 46 people, including 19 from Mauritania, were found in a safe house in a town just south of the US-Mexico border, Mexican authorities have said, adding that half of them were given humanitarian residency in the country.

The group included three people from Senegal and 24 from India. Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM) said in a statement on Monday that the group had been "kidnapped" and placed in a safe house in the city of Sonoyta, a town bordering the US.

Authorities did not elaborate as to who conducted the kidnapping, but added that they had been "deprived of their liberty for four days".

The INM said it carried out immigration procedures for the individuals from Mauritania and Senegal, and provided them with a visitor card allowing them to access employment and health services. It did not say whether it offered the same assistance to the group of Indians.

The 46 people were rescued in an operation in July, in which Mexican authorities found more than 150 foreigners being held across the city of Sonoyta. Of the larger group of people, 41 were from Egypt.

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Monday's announcement came after the INM said earlier this month it had located an abandoned bus of 129 Egyptian nationals on the Choapas-Nanchital highway in the south of Mexico, with authorities saying they were victims of human trafficking groups.

In another instance this month, the INM said that 89 Egyptians were similarly found in an abandoned bus along the Cordova-Boca del Rio highway in the southern state of Veracruz.

Abandoned bus with more than 100 Egyptians found in southern Mexico
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While crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe is a common migration route for people from north and Sub-Saharan Africa, less is known about the number of people travelling through the Americas to reach the United States.

However, the journey across the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, a stretch of land connecting South and North America, is considered one of the most popular - and most dangerous - migration routes in the world.

In May 2023, a US Covid-era border restriction policy known as Title 42 expired, and US authorities expected to see an uptick in the number of people attempting to cross into the country via the southern border.

In response, the Biden administration has imposed new border policies aimed at curbing crossings into the country, including sending troops to the border.

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