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Central America and Mexico Operational Update, May 2021

News and Press Release
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Regional context

In Central America, hundreds of thousands of people live under the threat of criminal gangs, and entire families are pushed to flee their homes due to violence and persecution, compounded by extreme poverty, climate phenomena and the COVID-19 pandemic. In El Salvador, a labour market study commissioned by UNHCR across six IDP reception cities show that LGBTQI+ population and persons with disabilities are increasingly exposed to discrimination and harassment when seeking employment.

Between January and May 2021, the National Protection Authority for Children in Honduras reported receiving 2,595 deported children, most of whom received attention in reception centres and psychosocial support. In Guatemala, according to the Social Welfare Secretariat, 1,983 unaccompanied children were returned from Mexico and the United States between January and May 2021. At least half of them were indigenous (54%) and 85% were on average between 14 to 17 years old.

According to the NGO Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, A.C., in the first five months of the year, 3,546 people were internally displaced due to violence in Mexico. In May, two massive events of internal displacement were recorded by this NGO impacting 954 people.

UNHCR supports the formal termination of the MPP (“Remain in Mexico”) programme. Since 19 February to the end of May, UNHCR jointly with IOM and UNICEF have assisted 11,393 persons to continue their asylum case in the US. Authorities recorded 5,818 people in mixed movements crossing into Panama from Colombia in April, up 577% from January. Most of the people are from Haiti and Cuba, but many also travel from as far away as Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, trying to eventually reach the United States.