UNHCR picIn El Salvador, children and adolescents are exposed to a danger that becomes increasingly serious : forced displacement due to the widespread violence. According to the UNICEF report, “Hidden in Plain Sight” El Salvador has been listed as the deadliest country in the world not at war where more children are murdered per capita than any other country. In this situation many families are being forced to leave their place of origin because of the constant threats from criminal groups.

The Norwegian Refugee Council revealed in its report “Global Overview 2015: People internally displaced by conflict and violence” that in 2014 there were a total of 288,900 people who fled their homes because of the violence in El Salvador. This represents 66% of the 436.500 displaced in the region of Central America. Threats or violence directed at one person affects the whole family including children and adolescents.

Children and adolescents are the direct victims of harassment, threats and violence by criminal gangs. Gangs often try to force them to participate in criminal acts or to perform sexual acts with leaders of the gangs. These are direct threats against their lives that demonstrate the multiple violations of their rights.

The US is not the only country where they are going, many of them are staying within Central America and to Mexico. In Mexico, the number of asylum applications from these areas has risen by 13 percent.

Despite this situation, the Salvadoran State has not formally acknowledged these hundreds of thousands of families that are forcibly displaced. It is only this year that the State has begun to discuss a policy that addresses this issue but, for the moment, there is no program helping families to seek justice against the perpetrators of violence.

It’s in this context that one of our partners “Quetzalcoatl” has elaborated a short report on the situation of children and adolescents in the context of forced migration in El Salvador. This report has been included in a presentation made by an alliance of NGOs to the Interamerican Rights Commission to draw attention to the forced displacement. The Interamerican Commission has now officially asked for more information by the Salvadorian state and expressed their worries about the situation especially for children and youth.

Read the Report (in spanish)

The UNHCR has aslo published a report called “Women on the Run” (Oct. 2015). This report tells the story of the tens of thousands of women who are fleeing violence in Mexico and the Central American Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“(…) while most of the international media attention is on the refugees arriving in Europe – from countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan – there is another protection crisis unfolding in Central America.” António Guterres United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

More info on Terre des Hommes work in El Salvador 

Watch the Video (2011): Young people from El Salvador migrate to the U.S.

Read our article ‘57,000 children on the run at the US border since October 2013


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