31 December 2013 |

Honduras: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2013


Criminal violence by local gangs and transnational drug trafficking organisations have forced at least 17,000 people to flee their homes in Honduras in recent years, according to civil society monitors.

The country has experienced the highest homicide rate in the world in recent years. The National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) reported a slight decrease from 85 to 79 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, but violence increased in the northern departments of Cortés, Atlántida, Colón and Ocotepeque.

Intra-urban displacements have taken place in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Bajo Aguán and Choloma. Urban violence is often the result of disputes between local gangs who provide security for drug trafficking cartels, often with the complicity of local police forces. Despite attempts at a truce, widespread extortion, threats and forced recruitment together constitute some of the main causes of internal displacement.

Agrarian conflicts, territorial disputes over trafficking corridors and the political persecution of those who opposed the 2009 presidential coup are also factors. Paramilitary and private security forces have driven communities off their land at the behest of mining companies in departments such as Atlántida.

Fearful of identifying themselves after leaving their communities, many IDPs have not found assistance or protection and instead often sought asylum in neighbouring countries or the US.

The government established a cross-institutional commission in 2013, responsible for developing policies and adopting measures to prevent displacement and to assist and protect those affected when it takes place. It also signed an agreement with UNHCR in August 2013 to improve IDPs’ protection. UNHCR is working with UNAH and the government’s statistics agency to establish better figures on the country’s displaced population.