2020 was a terrible year for the world, especially for the humanitarian situation in Honduras. The country was shut down between March and October with more than 96,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,600 related deaths. The Government responded quickly, taking measures to protect lives, secure livelihoods and support the economy. However, despite these efforts, it has not been possible to minimize the multifaceted humanitarian impacts of the pandemic, especially on the most vulnerable groups in society.
As the country coped with the various impacts of COVID-19, back-to-back tropical storms in the span of less than two weeks brought devastating impacts that only exacerbated the multidimensional crisis Honduras has been facing for several years. The consequences of these disasters weakened the resilience of Hondurans, exacerbating already high levels of exclusion and inequality that coincide with increasing violence, including violence against women and children, limited coverage and access to basic services, rising internal and cross-border displacement, growing mixed migration flows, and high rates of poverty and food and nutrition insecurity. In this context, women, children, informal workers, indigenous people, Afro-descendants and people with disabilities are most affected. Multiple simultaneous crises, generating severe humanitarian impacts linked directly to development processes, with their roots in the rule of law, security and protection, require a comprehensive and coordinated response to help save lives.
Tropical storms Eta and Iota left a trail of destruction in some parts of the country, especially in the departments of Cortés, Santa Bárbara, Gracias a Dios, Yoro and Colón, affecting more than 4.5 million people, making it imperative that the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) complement the Government's response efforts through a coordinate and well-targeted approach. Honduras' HCT – made up of more than 50 national and international organizations – has grown stronger following collective response efforts to tackle dengue, drought and other hazards. In 2020, the HCT implemented a Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for COVID-19 which targeted more than 1.2 million people. Within two weeks of Eta’s landfall in Honduras, the HCT launched an international appeal to respond to the emergency generated by the two tropical storms, assisting more than 1 million people and raising more than 78 per cent of the required funds in less than 6 months.
Although the country is considered middle-income, today nearly three million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance. This figure represents a 115 per cent increase from the 1.3 million people in need of assistance identified in the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) published in early 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis and back-to-back tropical storms in 2020 increased the poverty rate in the country by 4.2 per cent. This means that 4 out of every 10 people live in poverty. The storms alone left at least 2.8 million people with urgent humanitarian needs.
On the other hand, school closures affected more than half a million children. Declining purchasing power, the effects of climate change on harvests and the disruption of school feeding for children has increased the number of food-insecure people to more than three million.
In 2020, Honduras registered 937,000 new displacements, ranking it among the top four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for new disaster-triggered displacements. Honduras even surpassed countries such as South Sudan in the number of new displacements due to disasters and conflicts in 2020.