With 736 people killed, January has become the deadliest month in the Central American country since the Civil War ended in 1992. Compared to the same period in 2015, when 336 people were killed, the increase represents a 219% growth and 328% more than in January 2014.
By the end of 2015, with 6 657 people murdered, which represents a rate of 104 per 100 000 people, El Salvador had become one of the most violent countries in the world, war zones included.
The surge in violence registered since 2015 explains why thousands of Salvadorans as well as other Central Americans have fled their countries or become internally displaced. 4.6% of the country´s population (289 000 people) had to leave their homes due to the ongoing violence. Compared with the forced displacement registered in the two preceding years, 2015 displacement figures represent a 100% increase.
This violence has even had an impact on the campaign against the spread of ZIKA. Territorial control by armed groups is obstructing (by limiting access and threatening extortion) the actions to contain the spread of Zika (as well as dengue, and chikungunya) in some areas. More than 7 000 suspected cases of Zika have been identified in El Salvador, and the government has launched a campaign relying on aggressive fumigation and the removal of standing water.