What We Do

Victim Assistance & Advocacy


Why It Matters

The Northern Triangle of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—is the most violent region in the world. El Salvador is the most violent country in the world not at war, and yet for families affected by this violence there are few if any in-country protection options. As families, often single mothers and children, flee gang-controlled territories under threat of extortion, rape, and death, they are forced from home to home until they ultimately seek protection abroad. An estimated 566,700 people were internally displaced in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in 2014 alone. This phenomenon in turn is driving irregular migration both to the north through Mexico to the United States, and increasingly to the south to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.

What We Do


There are few, if any, protection options in El Salvador for families fleeing violence. Many don’t report their cases for fear of increased exposure and risk, and instead self-incarcerate or hide elsewhere in-country. To address these fears, Cristosal collaborates with our in-country partners to offer humanitarian assistance and legal services to demand protection for families.


Cristosal founded and coordinates the Civil Society Working Group Against Forced Displacement by Violence, the leading national body in El Salvador advocating for the rights of those forcibly displaced by violence. The Working Group currently operates and contributes to the largest existing database of cases of forced displacement, and regularly publishes reports and policy recommendations for both civil society and state entities.


Our legal staff choose emblematic cases representing common victim profiles, e.g. displaced minors or victims of sexual slavery. These actions help establish legal protection mechanisms for thousands of victims, and strengthen national institutions responsible for citizen security. 


Cristosal regularly advocates on both the regional and global stage with policy and decision-makers to include protections for victims displaced by violence and support for democratic institutions as key elements of a long-term peace strategy in the Northern Triangle. We also engage with state, non-profit, academic and civil society actors to collectively defend the rights of those displaced by violence in the Northern Triangle. 

Our Impact in 2015



Displaced children received direct assistance from Cristosal and its partners, including humanitarian and legal assistance, and/or comprehensive case documentation. 



Documented cases of forced displacement in one year by Cristosal and partner organizations, 53% of which were women and girls fleeing violence. 



Salvadorans internally displaced by violence annually with increased access to both national and regional protections thanks to the advocacy of Cristosal and its partners. 



Cristosal recently attended to the case of a mother and her two daughters, one of whom has a developmental disability. As an entrepreneur and community leader, the mother's success brought the attention of gang members who began extorting her. Unable to continue paying the extortion fees or 'renta', she fled to another part of the country. The gangs found her there and continued to threaten her so she moved again. And again. 

As a last resort, she and her family self-incarcerated in the home of a family member, unable to work or seek medical treatment for her daughter’s condition. Cristosal brought the case to the attention of the appropriate Salvadoran healthcare institutions and helped them develop procedures to guarantee the family’s security while providing care. Beyond restoring the daughter’s health, Cristosal and the family together established best practices for families in similar situations, and improved the ability of these institutions to do their job.

Make a difference today

Cristosal depends on your donation to continue improving conditions for thousands of families in Central America. Help us protect those who need it most.