“Women on the Run” was based on interviews conducted with 160 women recently forced to flee their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – the “Northern Triangle of Central America”, or (NTCA) - and parts of Mexico to escape growing violence in their communities.
They described in detail how criminal armed groups terrorize populations to establish control over large areas of these countries, and how women in particular are targeted by specific and extreme forms of gender-based violence.
“Everything affects you because there a woman is worthless,” explained Lana, one of the women interviewed for the report. “It is as though your life is not worth anything. They rape. There is no limit. There is no authority. There is no one to stop them.”
While governments in the region have made efforts to address root causes of violence, people continue to flee. The region has some of the highest murder rates in the world, especially of women.
While some of the women flee towards the United States, many others escape to neighboring states in Central America and Mexico where applications for asylum from people fleeing the three NTCA countries and parts of Mexico – have skyrocketed thirteenfold since 2008.
According to U.S. government statistics, 82 percent of 16,077 women from these countries who were interviewed by U.S. authorities in the last year were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture and were allowed to pursue their claims for asylum in the United States.
SEE REPORT HERE
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El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have some of the highest homicide rates in the world, especially for women. Each day, more and more people are forced to flee the region to seek safety. This is a looming refugee crisis.
It is the role of the United Nations Refugee Agency to work with governments to provide protection and solutions for refugees around the world. To better understand the crisis that is growing in the Americas, UNHCR spoke with 160 women like Alba, who shared their horrifying stories of persecution to US authorities and were allowed to pursue their cases for asylum. Many mothers and their children flee their homes to protect themselves from serious harms such as murder, extortion, and rape at the hands of the maras, who are criminal armed groups that control large parts of the region. Their reach surpasses the governments’ ability to respond and protect their own citizens. These are the stories of refugees.