Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has risen steadily as violence has increased. Mary Small of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Shaina Aber of the United States Jesuit Conference explain what is driving people to flee for their lives.
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Youth gang violence has intensified in the last decade, and as drug trafficking routes have shifted to Central America, violence associated with the drug trade has risen as well. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in world; from 2005-2012, murders of women and girls have increased 346% while murders of men and boys are up 292%. In all three countries, rates of impunity are over 90%.
Child advocates, especially from Honduras and El Salvador, report accounts of children and teenagers subject to assaults and intimidation from gangs, and of children being forcibly recruited by gangs who have “join or die” polices. In a survey conducted by UNHCR of 404 Central American children detained at the border in 2013, UNHCR found that 58% of the children might be in need of international protection.