The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned that people in Honduras face “war-like levels of violence.”
During a visit to the Central American country, the organization’s head, Jan Egeland, spoke with people whose suffering was at the level of an armed conflict.
According to him, entire communities are being forcibly displaced by gangs.
He urged governments around the world not to neglect the crisis. Egeland complained that the number of murders in Honduras – as well as in neighboring Guatemala and El Salvador – rivals that in armed conflicts, turning thousands of people into refugees.
Women are frequent victims of sexual violence and femicides there, with an average of one woman murdered every 28 hours.
Even children are not immune to gang violence. Egeland told the BBC he visited a school in the town of La Lima, whose student population has dropped from 5,000 to 1,200 in the last five years.
“There is a catastrophic dropout rate. Students either migrate north [to the US] or are too afraid to attend school and stay home for fear of being recruited by armed gangs.”
Many students cannot afford to attend classes, he said, because their families rely on them to earn money for food.
Honduras has long suffered from widespread gang violence, but many people are also dealing with the aftermath of two hurricanes that struck the country in November 2020.
According to the NRC, 3.2 million people in Honduras alone need aid, many of whom require shelter and food assistance.
Egeland praised the Honduran government for introducing a law to assist internally displaced people but warned that it would require “outside financial and diplomatic support” to be effectively implemented.