Migrants at Matamoros tent camp getting solar-powered lanterns


BROWNSVILLE, Texas (Border Report) — In an effort to improve safety and give migrants a sense of comfort, a nonprofit group this weekend plans to distribute hundreds of solar-powered lanterns at the migrant refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

Cassie Stewart, executive director of the Rio Valley Relief Project, told Border Report that her organization on Saturday will be giving out 200 lanterns at the camp, which is located near the Gateway International Bridge across from Brownsville, Texas.

There are upwards of 3,000 migrants living in tents on the banks of the Rio Grande at the camp, which has taken over most of a city-owned park.

Read a Border Report story about the Matamoros refugee camp.

Adding lights to the camp will help with security issues and provide a much-needed resource, Stewart said.

“There’s never been any lights in the camp before,” Stewart said. “They really need this.”

Stewart and several members of her organization were traveling from Dallas and Austin on Friday, and along with members of the nonprofit organization Team Brownsville intend to pull wagons filled with the donated lanterns and other camp supplies across the Gateway bridge on Saturday.

Their goal is to furnish every family tent with one lantern. They came on Jan. 18 and installed 200 lanterns as part of a pilot project.

It was well-received, she said, especially since each lantern comes with a USB that enables migrants to charge their cellphones, she said.

The refugee camp has undergone a metamorphosis in the past couple weeks, relocating families from the concrete base area of the bridge further up the river embankment into the park, where there are other amenities, such as a clothes-washing station, community garden plot, a medical trailer operated by Global Response Management and pavilions supplied by the Mexican government.

“We have a system of writing their name down and try to give one per family,” Stewart said. “We’re hitting the second camp this time, the camp in the way back in the dark.”

The group plans to return Later this month with more lanterns, she said.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.

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