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Central America and Mexico Operational Update, August 2021

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Regional context

Ongoing multidimensional crises affecting El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras coupled with a significant increase in humanitarian needs amid complex socioeconomic situation has led to the development of Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) for each of the countries. Almost 8.3 million people across the three countries are in need of humanitarian assistance (25% of the total population). Violence and displacement are outlined as relevant dimensions of the crises in these Central American countries, as well as food insecurity and climate related shocks.

The region if facing rising political instability. In Honduras, distrust towards the electoral process was reflected during the final registration of candidates, which ended in security incidents. So far, at least 12 homicides are linked to the electoral process, in addition to cases of threats and coercion, according to the National Observatory of Violence.
In El Salvador, constitutional reforms promoted by the government and the use of Bitcoin as legal tender have received mixed reactions.

In Costa Rica, the Directorate of Migration reports increasing numbers of new appointments to file asylum claims by Nicaraguans. Between January and August 2021, a total of 44,445 Nicaraguan asylum-seekers had expressed their intention to seek asylum in Costa Rica while 23,183 have already formalized their claims in 2021.

The operation to end the MPP (“Remain in Mexico”) programme was brought to a halt following a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court requiring the U.S. government to “implement the Migrant Protection Protocols policy in good faith”. In Mexico, August has seen a dramatic rise in asylum claims by nationals from Haiti, surpassing Honduras as the country with most asylum claims. Between January and August, 77,321 people have applied for asylum in the country. Nearly 83% of all asylum-seekers stranded in the Mexican states bordering the United States reported that they had been the victim of violence or threats, according to a report compiled by Human Rights First. Most Haitians arriving in Mexico are part of onward movements from Chile and Brazil.

In Panama, according to migratory authorities, 70,376 people have crossed the Darien Gap so far this year (25,361 during August alone) mostly Haitians, followed by an increasing presence of Venezuelans, Cubans, and people from Asian and African countries. According to the Commission for Women, Children, Youth, and the Family of the National Assembly, they have been victims of robberies, assaults, and rapes in at least 170 cases currently under investigation by the Public Ministry.