EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The number of Mexicans displaced by violence – particularly narco-violence – increased nearly five-fold in 2021, a human rights organization reported.

A total of 36,682 people fled their towns last year citing suffering or witnessing acts of violence against themselves, relatives, or members of their community, according to the Mexican Commission for Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, which tracks the numbers since 2014. The group reported 7,486 cases of internal displacement in 2020.

Most of the displaced are from the states of Guerrero and Michoacan – where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is involved in a bloody war against several local criminal organizations – the mostly rural states of Oaxaca and Chiapas and even northern states like Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas.

In Chihuahua, the displacement of 20 or more people has been reported in the southern part of the state in towns like Guadalupe y Calvo, the commission reported. In Michoacan, at least 20 residents left 10 municipalities in 2021 due to the violence.

The commission first noticed the spike during the first three months of 2021, when some 7,433 people left their communities compared to 4,500 in the first trimester of 2020. The displacement reached a peak in July and August, when 5,182 and 10,439 people left their communities.

At least some of the displaced are making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. In Juarez, local officials have noticed an increase in the arrival of Mexicans from Michoacan, Guerrero and Zacatecas coming to find work or cross into the United States.

Some of them may be confused about the border being open to all asylum-seekers, given the Biden administration’s recent re-start of the Migrant Protection Protocols program.

“It’s very important to clarify that MPP does not apply to Mexican nationals. Mexicans cannot be returned to Mexico to await their court cases in the United States,” said Enrique Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua Population Council. “Also, we want people to know that Title 42 is still in effect. The (expulsion) of people (from the United States) for health reasons continues to be applied. The (COVID-19) pandemic is not over.”

Displaced Mexicans have been arriving en masse to Juarez since fall 2019, when hundreds camped on sidewalks near the Paso del Norte and Bridge of the Americas U.S. ports of entry.