GPC Operations Cell: gpc[at]unhcr.org
Gender-Based Violence: chase[at]unfpa.org
Child Protection: rpouwels[at]unicef.org
Housing, Land and Property: jim.robinson[at]nrc.no
Mine Action: unmasgeneva[at]un.org
Honduras is facing a complex and multifaceted crisis, caused by the convergence of complex social, economic, political and environmental factors, including violence, poverty and weak governance structures. This multiplicity of adverse situations is reinforced in a context of generalized violence, in which risks to the population are exacerbated, with specific impacts on women, LGTBIQ+ persons, children and adolescents, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities. The presence of criminal gangs that exert social and territorial control leads to various forms of violence, including extortion, gender-based violence, forced recruitment, dispossession of housing and property, and restrictions on freedom and mobility. The country is grappling with the consequences of insufficient economic growth, with little progress made on poverty, high rates of informal labour, and a structural inequality that disproportionately affects women, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and Afro-Honduran communities. High levels of impunity, and lack of rule of law exacerbate the situation, creating a context in which the population has few protection alternatives within the country. According to the Protection Cluster, at least 1.46M (45% of the overall People in Need), face protection needs.
According to the most recent Protection Analysis Update, the population of Honduras faces five core protection risks.
The first is extortion, which has historically manifested itself as one of the main threats to the population, with a disproportionate impact on merchants and transporters. This includes extortion as a source of financing for criminal structures, and as a way of social and territorial control of communities.
The second is gender-based violence, with Honduras registering as the country with the highest rate of femicides in the region. In 2021 alone, 342 violent deaths of women were reported. Alarming levels of sexual violence correlate to a high rate of teenage pregnancies and childbearing. The risks for women, adolescent girls and girls in the country are closely related to the humanitarian context, and to the social manifestations of urban violence, forced displacement and the barriers faced by survivors of gender-based violence in accessing justice and support.
The third, forced recruitment, disproportionately affects children and adolescents. However, it also impacts transportation workers, merchants, and people with disabilities, who are under greater pressure to comply with the demands of gangs, mainly related to the transportation or sale of drugs. Women and girls also face particular risks as they are considered sexual or marital targets and are used as informants in exchange for protection within the community.
The fourth, dispossession, misappropriation and destruction of housing, lands and properties, primarily affects those who are also victims of extortion, or people living in strategic locations that serve the interests of gangs. This risk is particularly aggravated by the high level of legal insecurity of tenure that limits the possibility of protecting property.
The fifth, restrictions on freedom and mobility due to the dynamics of social and territorial control by criminal structures, materialized in the imposition of so-called "invisible borders” and "curfews", which place restrictions on daily activities and customs. Those living in areas controlled by armed groups are restricted in their access to health and education services, work and, in general, the use of public spaces for protection and participation. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to reprisals, including demands to be informants. The population with disabilities also faces additional risks, for example in the case of deaf people, which is explained by the fact that sign language is interpreted as "gang language" in some areas.
The Resident Coordinator requested the activation of the Clusters in Honduras to respond in a coordinated and effective manner to the emergency generated by the hurricanes, Eta and Iota, which struck the country between November 1 and 16, 2020 and that was aggravated by the context of pre-existing violence and COVID-19. The activation, initially defined until the end of 2021, was extended through 2022 considering that the COVID-19 and hurricanes Eta and Iota worsened the longstanding multidimensional crises in Honduras and weakened the coping capacity of the State and communities.
The Protection Cluster is led by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and co-coordinated by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The membership of the Protection Cluster is composed of 35 organizations (25 NGOs, 8 UN agencies and 2 Red Cross organizations), and a Strategic Advisory Group integrated by UNHCR as cluster lead, UNFPA as lead of the AoR of gender-based violence, UNICEF as lead of child protection; UN Women as representative of the United Nations System, the Honduran Red Cross as national organization, and Medicos del Mundo as international organization. Additionally, the Protection Cluster has been structured by harmonizing the coordination of two Local Teams covering the main areas of intervention in the borders and communities facing the greatest risks of violence.