Over the past years, countries in Central America have faced high violence levels and suffered different natural disasters with increasing frequency and impact, including hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, earthquakes, landslides, droughts, among others. All this provoked different migration crisis as well as high levels of international migration. In this context, IOM has assisted the governments and civil society of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, in strengthening their capacity to respond and address the needs of migrants and displaced populations. In particular, to assist these countries, IOM has supported local governments through activities related to human mobility, logistics, community stabilization, preparedness and response in migration crises and humanitarian emergencies, gaining a better understanding of disaster risk management and recovery efforts, and upholding the human dignity and well-being of migrants, returnees, displaced populations and communities affected by crises.
IOM will seek to support these countries to:
- Enhance the response and preparedness capacities of government institutions to protect and assist crisis-affected populations and stabilize communities, while prioritizing the provision of protection and humanitarian assistance to women, children and LGBTIQ persons, including unaccompanied and separated children;
- Reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of affected populations (migrants, internally displaced persons, and host communities);
- Support and facilitate Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) and recovery efforts at the national and local levels;
- Build and enhance community resilience by strengthening the capacity of local stakeholders to define priorities and propose measures that will reduce the economic, social and environmental costs of disasters in a more comprehensive and people-centred manner.
Returnees, internally displaced persons, migrants and governments, as well as other relevant stakeholders such as municipalities, local authorities, civil society organizations (CSOs), local NGOs, and UN agencies.
Strengthen reception services with a humanitarian oriented focus will benefit migrants who voluntarily request to return to their countries of origin but do not have the means to do so. IOM activities will include:
- Irrespective of the current challenging context of COVID-19, IOM will seek to continue provide humanitarian protection and assistance, including voluntary movement assistance when relevant within the sub-region.
- Additionally, IOM plans to provide protection and referral mechanisms to vulnerable populations including unaccompanied migrant children, IDPs, victims of trafficking, or migrants experiencing other forms of abuse, and forcibly displaced persons in this region, through protection schemes and access to justice mechanisms, in coordination with prosecutors and offices for victims.
- Different protection measures to safeguard the rights, well-being and integrity (Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, Referral Systems, among others) of migrants will continue to operate in the three countries. In coordination with other actors and service providers (on protection, health care, collective centres, psychosocial support), IOM will seek to strengthen the existing mechanisms and develop new ones, particularly those related to personal security and shelter for those migrants, IDPs and returnees who have faced persecution from gangs, in order to ensure that protection risks are mitigated and needs of vulnerable populations are met in a timely manner and without discrimination (e.g. access to justice and mechanisms and schemes of protection of victims and witnesses, including security shelters and protective reinsertion programs).
- IOM will strengthen the quality of local services of collective centres (particularly electricity, illumination, water quality and availability, disposal management, separated and sufficient quantity of showers and toilets for women and men) to enable the reintegration of returned migrants and internally displaced persons affected by emergencies. IOM will also conduct regular training on shelter management, international standards on CCCM, and legal protection frameworks to key partners (local staff of collective centres, emergency committees, municipalities, among others).
IOM will also strengthen the capacity of institutions on border management to reduce human trafficking by conducting the following activities:
- Regional coordination to strengthen humanitarian border management to reduce human trafficking.
- Training for institutions on humanitarian border management and human trafficking including protection concerns, prevention and responses to gender-based violence (GBV) and referrals to specialized services if needed.
- Actions to protect vulnerable mobile groups.
In El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, IOM is a lead agency for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) in the context of disasters and emergencies. Activities will include:
- CCCM Cluster coordination in Honduras. The CCCM Cluster has been recently activated in Honduras and IOM will be strengthening
- Improving collective centres conditions (repairing of electricity systems, WASH facilities, roof, among others).
- CCCM training activities targeted for managers of collective centres. There is a lack of comprehensive systems and protocols to manage these shelters
- Strengthen the involvement and participation of IDPs in the management and operation of collective center (shelter) committees. The participation of the community is needed to ensure an effective administration of the shelters and the ownership of these shelters by the IDPs.
IOM will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of shelter and NFIs to vulnerable migrants and crisis-affected populations.
- Whenever possible, IOM will provide technical guidance on how to adapt and create adequate conditions in the facilities and ensure the provision of basic services.
- Additionally, IOM will provide support to governments to provide temporary accommodation assistance as well as information on referral services, reception and post-arrival assistance to migrants and/or returnees upon arrival or transit in prioritized transit/reception centres. In case of sudden displacement, IOM will also support governments in providing accommodation and basic services in collective centres established by the national authorities. IOM will ensure the adoption and use of preventive measures against COVID-19 in collective centres.
- IOM will always take gender considerations into account in all activities, to respond to the different needs of women, men, girls and boys (e.g. maternity or newborn care, nutrition education and vaccination). In particular, when providing humanitarian assistance, IOM will aim at meeting gender-related needs and risks such as GBV (through vulnerability/needs assessments, interviewing, dissemination of information on access to services and assistance and community engagement activities).
In order to support stranded migrants, IDPs and returnees IOM will:
- Provide voluntary humanitarian movement assistance to stranded migrants, IDPs and returnees whenever required and on a case-by-case basis. This may include organizing land and air movements and managing the disbursement of small cash grants in reception centers upon completion of the registration process to ensure their safe and dignified return to their communities of origin.
- In support of IOM-provided movement assistance, provide pre-departure medical screening and fitness to travel screening.
IOM will provide health support in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, directed towards the management and reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts through:
- Health activities related to COVID-19 vaccination (support in the access for migrants and IDPs for the vaccine, provision of technical/logistical support, among other forms of support). In coordination with WHO, IOM will design an awareness-raising campaign for IDPs in collective centres and returnees in reception centres (advocacy and information efforts).
In emergency contexts, IOM will prioritize water, sanitation, and hygiene efforts such as:
- Providing hygiene kits for male, female and child beneficiaries that will include essential items to help maintain sanitary conditions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during emergency situations.
- Improving access to clean drinking water, water for other purposes (such as showering), and functional sewage system services in collectives centres established in crisis-affected communities, including affected areas by Eta and Iota in Honduras.
Address the drivers and longer term impacts of crises and displacement through investments in recovery and crisis prevention
All migrants (regular or irregular), including those stranded, returnees, internally displaced persons, victims of human trafficking, and other migrants unable or unwilling to remain in their host country.
To support community stabilization activities, IOM will:
- Assist governments and civil society in communities of origin, transit and return through small-scale infrastructure improvements in communities affected by emergencies to reduce forced and irregular migration push factors and to address the impacts of large-scale flows of migrants.
- This will be done through improved social infrastructure, seed funding for returnees/IDPs, family reunification and protection programs for those returnees whose main reason to migrate was violence.
- Community organization and participation through the social engagement of youth and women in economic development, health, conflict mitigation and civic engagement.
In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, IOM will focus on providing assistance and support to support internally displaced persons and other people affected by displacement to address their assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination on account of their displacement. To this end, IOM will:
- Facilitate the reintegration and integration of IDPs and other people affected by displacement, through repairing their houses and restoring their previous livelihoods/adapting livelihoods alternatives.
- Strengthen the capacity of local governments and civil society organizations to build resilience.
- Strengthen inter-institutional coordination mechanisms created by the existing legislation for the protection of internal displacement victims.
- Build partnerships to facilitate resilience initiatives.
- Training on frameworks and tools for the implementation of the existing legislation for the protection of IDPs.
To reduce and mitigate some of the long-term effects of crisis and displacement among the populations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, IOM will provide activities in the region that focus on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the context of recovery and crisis prevention:
- MHPSS services and referrals will be facilitated in collective centres and transit/reception centres. IOM will coordinate with local actors to map existing services on MHPSS.
- MHPSS actions, as well as legal advice and referrals to basic health services, will be provided. MHPSS activities will be in line with the IOM Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Displacement.
- Establishment of mobile Psychosocial Teams (PMTs) as part of the overall COVID-19 response.
The northern countries of Central America - Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras - suffer high rates of multidimensional and chronic violence, as well as relatively low levels of human development, reflecting serious structural challenges in institutional, economic and social terms. Violence and limited economic opportunities for large shares of the populations of these countries continue to be the main causes of internal displacement and migration to the north in search of security, stability and opportunities.
To address these challenges, IOM proposes the following three activities in three levels of intervention: trinational, national and local. At each level, prevention, protection and reintegration activities will be interlinked, fostering interdisciplinary work to achieve joint results. In the implementation of peacebuilding and peace preservation, IOM aims to:
- Increase the coordination between the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to address migration issues, the protection of migrants in transit and the reintegration of migrants with the host communities. This will allow the inclusion of returnees at the local level and the improvement of social conditions which will contribute to social cohesion among the communities.
- Improve the capacities of national institutions and civil society in these countries to address migration issues, the protection of migrants in transit and the sustainable reintegration of returned migrants. IOM will identify conflict-affected communities and mitigate the drivers of conflict within communities by integrating a peacebuilding component training programs or materials, capacity-building, and curricula for strategic partners.
- Make sure effective mechanisms for sustainable reintegration and protection are implemented in the municipalities of origin or recipients of returned migrants, IDPs, and asylum seekers, through reinforced engagement, ownership, technical cooperation and financial assistance. Local initiatives and actions regarding sustainable reintegration will allow for interaction, engagement and cohesion among different groups in conflict-prone communities.
Local populations, community leaders, municipalities, relevant stakeholders, and communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters, national disaster risk reduction commissions.
In late 2020, the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have faced one of the most challenging disasters, Tropical Storms Eta and IOTA compounded by the pandemic of COVID-19, across the sub-region in recent history. In addition, these countries are located in the dry corridor of Central America and are considered among the most vulnerable countries to climate risks in the world. There is a major need of disaster risk reduction and prevention activities aimed at reducing displacement associated with natural hazards and climate risk.
In accordance with the Sendai Framework priorities, IOM will explore different opportunities to develop and implement actions including capacity-building on disaster mitigation, awareness-raising efforts on disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness at the community level. Activities will include:
- Training on preparedness efforts (risk reduction measures, mitigation actions and recovery programming) to build and strengthen the response and prevention capacities of key stakeholders, such as government and local organisations, as well as local communities to anticipate and effectively prepare to respond to the impact of potential hazards or disasters.
- Supporting/establishing initiatives related to improve the humanitarian response and enhancing the skills/knowledge on assistance to migrants during emergency contexts of various stakeholders, such as mapping of evacuation centers, delivery of relief supplies, and promotion of international standards during emergencies.
- Design and establishment of evacuation routes in collective centers for migrants and IDPs to ensure safe exits in case of an emergency during the stay of the population. Evacuation routes will be adapted to facilitate the evacuation of children, disabled and elderly persons.
- Conduct risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities which may affect people, communities, infrastructure, process systems, security, protection systems and IOM programs exposed to the risks of natural disasters.
- Advocate and seek opportunities to incorporate planned relocation into national plans and programmes to end cross-border or internal displacement.
Government institutions and stakeholders including migration authorities, national institutes of statistics and other relevant entities working with migration-related issues.
Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM will continue to strengthen the governments’ capacity to manage, collect, analyze and share migration information to support humanitarian action and protection of vulnerable populations in the Northern Countries of Central America. Activities will include:
- Identification of needs and gaps in these countries regarding humanitarian assistance provided to displaced persons in accommodation sites, particularly in makeshift collective centres and self-settled informal settlements where emergency response coverage is limited.
- Mapping potential evacuation and displacement sites and set up data collection mechanisms prior to a natural disaster.
- Implement DTM assessments by deploying its staff in medium to large-scale humanitarian response operations to ensure the collection of primary data among direct beneficiaries or crisis-affected populations (with the aim of reflecting the perceptions of beneficiaries on the assistance and responsiveness to identified needs in the DTM reports).
- Focus on data collection on displacement and migration trends (e.g. caravans, natural disasters, among others) through the DTM tool and other relevant baseline assessments whenever required. IOM will seek to liaise in the HPC cycle for 2021 to provide information on human mobility and sectorial needs, if viable.
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
Figures are as of 31 December 2020. For more details of IOM's operational capacity in country, please see the IOM Capacity section.