Operations: Regional context
In Central America, despite movement restrictions and borders continuing to be closed, violence and persecution continue to heighten risks for people who are unable to receive protection. In northern Central America, displaced people and community leaders report criminal groups are using confinement to strengthen their control over neighbourhoods, intensifying extortion, drug trafficking, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Health and physical distancing measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 continue to hamper economic activity, causing high levels of unemployment, particularly affecting refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and host communities, and increasing their vulnerabilities and their dependence on humanitarian assistance. The pandemic is also putting national and local health systems in Central America and Cuba under significant strain while tropical storms and hurricanes continue to threaten the region.
The rates of domestic violence, femicide, and sexual and gender-based violence are increasing during lockdown in the region, notably in El Salvador, where 1,158 women were assisted by ISDEMU, the majority between the ages of 26 and 59. The violent murder of a transgender asylum seeker in Guatemala highlights the urgent need for states to guarantee effective protection of all LGBTI people in the region. The asylum seeker had fled genderbased violence and persecution by gangs in El Salvador, and UNHCR has called upon Guatemalan authorities to investigate the case and ensure justice. In El Salvador, three policemen were sentenced to 20 years in prison last week for the murder of a transgender person, Camila Díaz Córdova.
This is the first ever conviction in El Salvador in a homicide of a transgender person.
In collaboration with local authorities in the region, UNHCR continues advocating for the enforcement of public policies that protect displaced persons, building the capacity of public officials, and strengthening case management of forcibly displaced persons. Mechanisms for case management of internally displaced children and LGBTI persons are being reinforced for the effective protection from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation in Central America.
To strengthen the role of non-governmental organizations in the MIRPS process, a regional consultation took place between UNHCR, NRC and civil society representatives from regional States where perspectives on the national rollout of protection and solutions were shared and areas for increased coordination and collaboration were defined.