Extreme violence, insecurity and poverty have left over a million people in dire need in the North of Central America. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned that death rates and displacement will continue to rise, and humanitarian agencies will be forced to close if the international community do not ramp up efforts to support vulnerable people across the volatile region. “Tragedies like the recent fully-preventable death of a desperate father and his young daughter on their way to the US should never have happened. This over-looked humanitarian crisis needs urgent international attention and support to avoid similar tragedies in the future. Humanitarian actors on the ground also need funding and access to people otherwise we could be forced to close our doors and vulnerable people will continue to feel abandoned,” said Christian Visnes, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Criminal actors present in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to generate widespread human rights violations, threats and intimidation, homicides, extortion, trafficking, kidnappings, child recruitment and sexual and gender-based violence. Recent human rights reports show that the current fear and insecurity among the civilian population can be compared to the fear and insecurity experienced by civilians living in armed conflicts.
“I fled my country and left my family behind because I was threatened. I asked for help in my country and in the United States, but I was not heard. I was deported,” said a Honduran father to NRC.
Displacement is also on the rise, both internally and across borders. Meanwhile, government institutions remain fragile and authorities have been unable, and sometimes unwilling, to respond to those affected by the violence.
In addition, options for international protection are dwindling as the US and Mexico restrict access to asylum systems.
“A regional humanitarian response plan is highly overdue for civilians who continue to suffer in Central America. The UN agencies must initiate and coordinate a regional plan before humanitarian actors are forced to close down their operations leaving vulnerable people to fend for themselves,” said Visnes.
Note to editors
- NRC together with eight other international aid organisations has sent a joint letter to UNOCHA outlining the needs of civilians in the north of Central America. The letter urges a proposal for a regional humanitarian response plan. Read the full letter here.