Northern Triangle of Central America Situation Update - December 2016
Refugees and asylum-seekers from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) until June 30.
IDPs in Honduras (2014 profiling exercise). A similar profiling exercise is taking place in El Salvador to assess the magnitude and patterns of displacement.
Deportations of NTCA citizens from the USA and Mexico in first half of 2016 (Jan-Jun). It is estimated that there are some 400,000 migrants in transit crossing Guatemala into Mexico.
UNHCR’s Regional Office in Panama is implementing the Regional Protection and Solutions Strategy for the NTCA situation in close collaboration with country offices, state entities and partners.
The Regional Office oversees UNHCR’s operations in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, as well protection activities in Panama, Nicaragua and Cuba.
The NTCA strategy also encompasses activities in the United States of America, Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica, with permanent coordination being ensured between respective country offices.
Central America is suffering a wave of violence stemming from organized criminal groups, including record high homicide rates, sexual violence, disappearances, forced recruitment into gangs, and extortion. Violence affects a diverse range of people including children, women, as well as LGTBI persons. Insecurity is also compelling an increasing number of persons to flee their homes and to seek international protection, particularly in bordering and nearby countries. The United States of America, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador are all affected, either as countries of origin, transit or destination, and in some cases, in a combination of these.
After the migrant crisis peaked in 2014, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras adopted the “Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” aimed at boosting security and economic development in the region. Comparing with prior years, 2016 saw a significant increase of US assistance for the region (US 750,000).
The majority of the funding focused on security (60%) and development cooperation (33%) in the 3 countries with highest rates of violence. Despite such an investment, in 2016 there was another migration surge, particularly of unaccompanied children, reaching the levels of the 2014 migration crisis. This resurgence is also caused by the worsening security situation in the NTCA countries. Significant outflows from these three NTCA countries are occurring for a complex set of reasons.
UNHCR considers that many of these persons would qualify as refugees. Traditionally, NTCA citizens seeking international protection request refugee status in the U.S. and Canada. A significant increase has however been observed in the number of asylum-seekers from the NTCA in countries of the region, particularly Mexico (151% increase between January and October 2016, compared to the same period in 2015) and Costa Rica, but also, although to a lesser extent, Belize, Nicaragua and Panama.
In response to the protection crisis, UNHCR developed a multi-year Protection and Solutions Strategy (2016 – 2018) within the framework of the 2014 Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action.