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Watchlist 2022

Crisis in Honduras: Ongoing violence and climate shocks

Here are three reasons the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Watchlist ranks Honduras among 20 countries most at risk of worsening humanitarian crisis in 2022.

Chronic violence, climate crisis and the impacts of COVID-19 have deepened humanitarian needs and driven displacement. Here’s what you need to know about the growing crisis in Honduras.

Since 2020, the number of Hondurans in need of humanitarian assistance has more than doubled, while food insecurity has increased due to consecutive climate shocks, rising food prices and the economic impacts of COVID-19. Nearly 3.3 million people, or one in three Hondurans, were experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity by late 2021. While Honduras is not seeing the political armed conflict common in most Watchlist countries this year, criminal gang violence is widespread. Allegations that senior politicians had been benefiting financially from the drug trade contributed to the unrest.

“Already vulnerable people in Honduras live in an evolving humanitarian crisis,” says IRC protection coordinator Zuleyma Chahin. “Women, children, the LGBTQ+ community, and returnees face ever growing conflict and risks, from the effects of climate change to the  impacts of COVID-19 and violence—at home and on the streets.”

A woman with two kids manages to walk across the destroyed bridge over the Higuito River on November 19, 2020 in Copan, Honduras.

A Honduran woman and her children manage to cross the remnants of a bridge destroyed by Hurricane Iota.

Photo: Getty images for the IRC

Humanitarian risks in 2022

Chronic violence will continue to cause major displacement and create particular risks for women and children.

Gang violence and organized crime are leading causes of displacement from Honduras. While homicide rates have dropped in recent years, Honduras is still the most dangerous country in the region, with 38 homicides per 100,000 people. Gender-based violence in Honduras is also among the highest in the region and has increased during the pandemic. Indeed, Honduras is seeing a plague of “femicides”—a woman is murdered every 36 hours, mostly by an intimate partner. Many women are choosing to flee the violence in their communities. In addition, gang recruitment of minors has contributed to the increasing numbers of families and unaccompanied children leaving Honduras for Mexico, some planning to travel onward to the U.S.. So long as violence in Honduras continues without impunity, major displacement will persist in 2022.

Climate-induced crises will contribute to food insecurity and economic decline.

Category 5 hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Honduras in November 2020 and have had enduring impacts on farmers—and the public generally—by destroying subsistence farms, killing livestock by the hundreds of thousands and reducing agricultural production. The storms, among other shocks, led to higher levels of food scarcity while weakening the state’s capacity to cope with displacement. Honduras is exposed to other climate shocks as well. Prolonged droughts have undermined food production, while in October 2021 a wildfire in the Guanaja region affected thousands.

COVID-19 is deepening health needs.

Access to health care services was a concern in Honduras prior to the pandemic, particularly for rural and economically marginalized communities. Poor health infrastructure and limited access to sanitation services has contributed to the spread of the virus. As a result, humanitarian needs for food, health, nutrition and protection have increased. With just 39% of the population fully vaccinated as of December 2021, the health risks associated with the pandemic will remain a concern long into 2022.

Along with Honduras, the IRC also identified Haiti and Venezuela as the countries most at risk of experiencing deteriorating humanitarian crises in 2022 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Read more about the top 10 crises the world can’t ignore in 2022, learn how the IRC selected these countries, and download the full 2022 Emergency Watchlist report for data citations and profiles of all 20 crisis countries on the IRC's list.

Urgent focus for a new administration

The inauguration of Xiomara Castro, elected Honduras’s first female president, is scheduled for January 27 with U.S. vice president Kamala Harris, King Felipe VI of Spain and other world leaders slated to attend.

The IRC is calling for stronger international cooperation to address the humanitarian crisis that displaces hundreds of thousands from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala every year.

“Women, children and the LGBTQ+ community are the ones most affected and we have seen the demand for services skyrocket, while the organizations delivering aid need increased resources to be able to staff up to meet the urgent needs,” says Meg Galas, director for northern Central America at the IRC.

Women, children and the LGBTQ+ community are the ones most affected and we have seen the demand for services skyrocket...

“It is essential to address the root causes of forced migration, a strategy that the current U.S. administration is adopting. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that it will take time for systems to change, but families across Honduras cannot wait—they have immediate needs to be safe and secure. We need to address these immediate needs too.”

How the IRC helps in Honduras

The IRC serves people and families in vulnerable situations or at increased risk for violence and displacement, including those who are uprooted by violence or returning after seeking safety in other countries. We provide cash to help people meet basic needs. We provide specialized support for survivors of gender-based violence; create safe spaces for women, youth and the LGBTQ+ community; and also offer psychosocial counseling and social work support. We also provide critical, up-to-date information and support from trained moderators through CuéntaNos, a digital platform that is part of the Global Signpost project.

How you can help in Honduras

Donate now to support the IRC's life-changing work in Honduras, across northern Central America, and worldwide. We are on the frontlines providing critical aid to crisis-affected people in more than 40 countries, including places on the 2022 Emergency Watchlist.