Displacement caused by generalised violence is affecting communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Official figures are either outdated or non-existent, but according to IDMC over 1.2 million people were internally displaced within these countries in 2019.
Criminal gangs exert heavy territorial control in the region. Extortion, restrictions on mobility, threats, intimidation, kidnapping, sexual violence and homicides are common. Massacres occur regularly. This context has been likened to a war situation.
According to the November 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, 9.2 million people need humanitarian assistance in this region, 1.8 million people need protection due to the impacts of violence and 3.5 million people are living with acute food insecurity. These figures were researched before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and before tropical storms Eta and Iota, which hit the region in November 2020. Since then, the scope of the crisis has only increased.
As the second wave of Covid-19 is underway, mass displacement, food insecurity, school abandonment, social unrest, violence, protection and housing needs, are all predicted to rise in the coming months.
People we helped in North Central America in 2019
NRC has been working in the north of Central America since 2014, meeting the needs of tens of thousands affected by violence and natural disasters, including the internally displaced, refugees, people in need of international protection, deported people, and their hosts.
We advocate for the recognition of the humanitarian crisis affecting the north of Central America and we contribute to the development of policy aiming to protect the rights of the displaced. We call for increased humanitarian funding and engagement on processes that will generate structural changes in protection and assistance in the region.
We work to ensure that children and youth have access to education and safe schools. In collaboration with local communities and local and national authorities, our teams:
- identify out-of-school children and youth, and establish study groups for those who want to continue their education
- prepare children to resume education activities and gain basic skills to remain safe
- promote and provide safe education opportunities
- strengthen the capabilities of local communities and institutions
Despite the current pandemic, we continue to work to ensure children remain connected to learning.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
To protect those who had to flee their homes, as well as those deported back to the region, we:
- provide information and counselling on humanitarian assistance, asylum procedures, and other legal pathways for people in need of international protection
- support authorities at local and national level to develop legal frameworks or improve practices to protect the rights of the forcibly displaced
- provide services to ensure access to Refugee Status Determination (RSD) and housing, land and property rights
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
To support those affected by displacement, violence and natural disasters we:
- facilitate access to our partners’ shelters
- upgrade and maintain collective centres ensuring the good functioning of sanitation and handwashing facilities
- distribute water and hygiene kits and promote good hygiene practices
- build the capacity of local organisations and institutions to respond to displacement emergencies, in line with the international humanitarian standards
As part of our Covid-19 emergency response, we are rehabilitating schools to allow children to return to an environment where safety requirements can be met, and we work with school staff and communities to promote hygiene messages.
Whenever possible, when assisting individuals and families facing high protection risks and other emergency situations, we utilise technology to distribute cash to allow people to cover their shelter or transportation costs, to buy food, hygiene products, or access public services and pay documentation fees.
- European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
- The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway (NMFA)
- Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (BPRM)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Your support will save lives and bring hope. Your support helps us to assist people fleeing extreme violence in Honduras and El Salvador.
About NRC in North Central America
Hundreds of thousands still waiting for humanitarian aid in Honduras and Guatemala
More than four weeks since tropical storms Eta and Iota devastated Honduras and Guatemala, more than 400,000 people remain in temporary shelters, while thousands are living on the streets in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Protection Snapshot 9: The Impact of Violence on the Right to Health for Displaced Persons in the North of Central America and Mexico
In communities controlled by criminal groups in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, there are significant barriers to accessing the right to health. This can trigger internal and cross-border displacement, but fleeing to a neighbouring country, such as Mexico, does not guarantee access to adequate healthcare.
Protection Snapshot: Extortion: a key trigger of internal displacement and forced migration in Central America and Mexico
In communities controlled by criminal groups in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, extortion is a part of daily life. People with small businesses, people working in public transportation, residents and children are particularly affected, and often have to close their businesses or be confined to their homes. Extortion is also one of the main reasons why people have to flee their homes in the North of Central America, as well as one of the main crimes that people are subjected to during displacement and migration through Mexico.
New asylum agreements are a threat to displaced people in Central America
The number of people trying to cross the US border is the highest in a decade. Last year, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes in the North of Central America (NCA), fleeing violence and persecution, seeking safety from the criminal gangs whose networks stretch across the region.