Honduras, the small Central American country nestled between Guatemala and Nicaragua, is home to a rich, cultural heritage, stunning wildlife, beaches and forests. Despite the beauty this country has to offer, many of its citizens are seeking a safe haven far from the country they know. Here are 10 things you need to know to better understand Honduran refugees.
- The countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador often are reported on in tandem. This grouping, referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle, experiences similar problems leading all three to their high refugee rates.
- Honduras is struggling with an incredibly high homicide rate. The country is currently tied with El Salvador for highest homicide rate in the world and in 2015, over 17,000 homicides were recorded across the Northern Triangle.
- Many of these killings are related to gang or criminal organization activity. Citizens of Honduras run the risk of being extorted by these groups and are often threatened with violence if they are unable to pay fees.
- Honduras is dangerous for women. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that women fleeing the Northern Triangle often report being assaulted, extorted and threatened. Honduras averages at 10.9 female homicides per 100,000 people. In comparison, the same statistic for the U.S. is 1.9 per 100,000.
- The number of Honduran refugees is growing. Nearly 10 percent of the region’s 30 million citizens have fled in the past 10 years. An analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations said that the amount of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala living in the U.S. increased from 1.5 million to 2.7 million between 2000 and 2013.
- In addition to the threat of violence, Honduran refugees may also be fleeing from their countries for climate-related reasons. Honduras is experiencing prolonged drought effects due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.
- This drought is having a severe effect on food prices and on farming in the country. Bean and maize harvests have been cut in half due to the drought leading to an increase in food prices.
- Malnutrition is a serious risk for families. The U.N.’s World Food Project reports that around a quarter of children aged six months to two-and-a-half years struggle due to chronic malnutrition.
- The U.S has begun attempts to help the situation. In 2015, the Obama Administration appropriated $750 million to help address root causes of the influx of refugees.
- The U.S. Refugee Admission’s Program has been established to aid refugees from the Northern Triangle. The program will seek to identify families in need, and then relocate them as permanent residents in the U.S.
Though the situation in Honduras looks grim, the U.S. has the opportunity to make a difference through programs that will alleviate poverty-induced violence and restore the country that is home to so many refugees.
– Jordan Little