The number of Central American refugees increased 58% between 2016-2017

The number of Central American refugees increased 58% between 2016-2017

THE UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has noted an alarming increase in the number of people experiencing forced displacement in Northern Central America.  Most of these are fleeing conflict and violence.

At the end of 2017 almost 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers were registered from Northern parts of Central America. This is a 58% increase from the year before and 16 times greater than in 2011.

From 2011 to 2016, the number of people from the North of Central America who have sought refuge in surrounding countries has increased by 2,249%.

The growing number of refugees in Central America aligns with global trends of increasing displacement. Between 2011 and 2017 350,000 refugee application were made, 135,000 of these were in 2017 alone.

Refugees in Central America are primarily fleeing into Belize, Mexico and the United States in the north or Panama and Costa Rica in the south. A large portion of the refugees are considered high risk, such as vulnerable women and children who have been separated from their families.

Latin America is currently experiencing its worst ever refugee crisis as thousands have left Venezuela. The UN estimates the human outflow of Venezuela to be 1.1 million.

The UNHCR has highlighted that vulnerable refugees could be recruited into gangs and face dangers of violence and sexual exploitation.

In order to reduce this risk the UNHCR is working closely alongside governments and civil society organisations through a regional framework known as MIRPS.

Through MIRPS, people who have been forcibly displaced receive access to shelter, more efficient refugee procedures and enhanced solutions such as access to welfare and job markets.

Providing the refugees with access to job markets has empowered many as it has integrated them into their new community and allows them to contribute economically to the community.

The UNHCR has appealed for $36.2 million to support refugees in Central America, so far only 12% of this has been secured.


Join us at our 10th anniversary AIDF Global Summit taking place in Washington D.C, United States, where forced displacement and refugee crises will be a key discussion point.

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  Image credit: UNHCR

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