A new campaign by Amnesty International highlights the plight of thousands of Central American migrants traveling across the region every year by calling for donations of a particular, humble item of clothing.

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

“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,” Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “Much to our surprise, the migrants did tell us that one thing they desperately needed on their journey were 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.

There are no official figures for the numbers of migrants travelling illegally through Mexico but 60,000 were detained and repatriated in 2011. More than nine in every 10 are Central Americans, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua, according to Amnesty International.