El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras situation

UNHCR accompanying beneficiaries to collect their first cash assistance in San Cristobal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
UNHCR accompanying beneficiaries to collect their first cash assistance in San Cristobal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.   © UNHCR/Hiram Villarreal

Latest updates

Global Report 2021

2021 Year-end population figures 

  • Refugees: 131,000   

  • Asylum seekers: 484,000  

  • IDPs: 319,000 

  • Other populations of concern: 254,000  


2021 Situation overview  

The root causes of this displacement situation are multiple and interrelated: widespread violence, territorial control by criminal organizations and gangs, fragile institutions, the impact of climate change and deeply entrenched inequalities – all compounded by the pandemic. 

In 2021, growing numbers of people were forced to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. By year-end there were nearly 600,000 asylum seekers and refugees from these countries, mainly in Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States of America. It is estimated that approximately 320,000 people were internally displaced in El Salvador and Honduras, although the actual number could be higher. In addition, significant cross-border movements, predominantly of Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans, continued to be reported, putting additional pressure on asylum systems, mostly in Central America and Mexico. 

Strengthened asylum capacity enabled States to process more asylum applications and provide alternative protection for those in need. The number of asylum seekers and refugees in Central America and Mexico rose from 33,000 in 2015 to 296,000 by mid-2021. Mexico has become the fourth-largest recipient country of new asylum claims in the world with more than 131,000 new asylum applications in 2021. Similarly, Central American States, while remaining mostly transit countries, increasingly hosted people in search of protection. 

In coordination with partners, UNHCR supported a range of multisectoral humanitarian and protection services under the humanitarian response plans in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In addition, in the framework of the Comprehensive Development Plan for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and south and southeast Mexico, a package of priority projects was consolidated to support developmental investments in strengthening the response capacity of national institutions and the effective inclusion of displaced people.  

UNHCR worked with multiple stakeholders, including national and state-departmental authorities, parliaments and local governments to promote institutional frameworks and policies on the prevention of internal displacement and protection of IDPs such as in El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. Furthermore, national authorities were supported with developing national statistics and information on IDPs, in line with the international recommendations on IDP statistics. 

In Central America and Mexico, UNHCR supported the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) as part of the Technical Secretariat. With Guatemala holding the MIRPS pro tempore presidency for 2021, UNHCR enhanced the coordination of Member States for technical consultations and joint operational planning to complement existing political dialogue.  

MIRPS leveraged support from States, international financial institutions, the private sector, regional bodies and other stakeholders to offer further protection and solutions to forcibly displaced people in the region. The Inter-American Development Bank joined the platform in April 2021, strengthening coordination with development actors. In July 2021, Canada took the leadership of the platform for the next 12 months, with a focus on the protection and empowerment of women and girls on the move.  

Global Appeal 2022

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras Situation

2022 Population planning figures

  • IDPs: 473,600
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers in Latin America and Caribbean countries*: 148,200
  • Others of concern: 208,342

*This projection does not include Mexico and US.

2022 Situation overview

In 2021, a growing number of families, unaccompanied children and individuals were forced to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, a trend that is expected to persist in 2022. Widespread violence, fragile institutions, impact of climate change and deep-rooted inequalities compounded by the pandemic-related socioeconomic downturn contributed to displacement across borders and inside Honduras and El Salvador. Along with Mexico, the countries in Central America are increasingly becoming host to those in search of protection, while remaining transit countries for people from the south of the continent and beyond. The reintegration of those who have returned remains critical to ensuring future opportunities and mitigating the risk for further displacement.

In 2022, UNHCR will further support national efforts to address the causes and consequences of forced displacement in the region. In alignment with Humanitarian Response Plans in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, UNHCR aims to implement multifaceted responses aligned with national plans designed under the Comprehensive Regional Framework for Protection and Solutions (MIRPS).

See more information on El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras situation page.
2022 Budget

Source: 2022 budget as approved by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme at its 72nd session in October 2021.