83 cases of forced displacement registered in 2017

Cristosal Chief Program Officer points out that the figures cannot be used as a representative sample of the forced displacement by violence phenomenon; they are only cases that Cristosal has managed to record.

Between August 2014 and December 2016, there were 339 cases of displacement with 1,322 victims, according to the Civil Society Board against this phenomenon.

Human rights organization Cristosal documented 83 cases of forced displacement by violence from January to September 2017, for a total 394 people, all victims of some type of violence, mostly caused by gangs.

Cristosal Chief Program Officer Celia Medrano said 200 women and 194 men have been victims of some kind of violence that forced them to move to a "safe" place, or to a non-governmental organization shelter, while the situation is resolved.

"The majority have been threatened by groups associated with gangs; however, there is a percentage where the aggressor causing the internal displacement is a state actor, mainly the National Civil Police,” Medrano told El Mundo.

In fact, of the 83 cases to which Cristosal has attended, 79% were victimized by gangs: MS-13 and 18th Street.

Last week, Minister of Justice and Security Mauricio Ramírez said the main cause of forced displacement is the economy, followed by family reunification, with violence in third place.

Ramírez said the government has no problem recognizing displacement, but "what we do not agree with is that everything is attributable to violence; it's a multi-causal situation, as indicated by different studies and shown by the cases we have seen," he said.

Photo:  El Mundo

Photo: El Mundo

"The problem is that in a multi-causal analysis, you don’t review what you are going to rate as first, second and third; if it is multi-causal, there is no first, second and third," Medrano says.

The Civil Society Committee against forced displacement by violence recorded 193 cases in 2016, with 417 direct victims and 282 indirect victims, where the causes of the displacement were threats and the murder of a relative.

According to Cristosal, the causes were the same during the first nine months of 2017: threats, murder or attempted murder of a family member, extortion, witness of a violent act, and rape.

The cycle

The Civil Society Committee against forced displacement by violence and organized crime has identified a cycle with several characteristics, including the size of the country, the control or presence of violent actors in urban and rural areas, and the location’s relationship to the massive migratory phenomenon.

"If we do not address the issue of persons internally displaced by violence, those families will continue to move around the country asking for help for extended periods; those families have no alternative but to migrate as a whole or in parts; and then another factor of the cycle is that around 40% of the people we have attended to, as organizations, have previously been deported,” explains Medrano.

Some families manage to move to the home of a relative, friend, or shelter after suffering a threat. Those who fail to do so opt for "confinement," for fear of suffering some type of aggression from their victimizers.

On November 17, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, told the Salvadoran government it must accept the phenomenon in order to confront it.

Translated from Cornejo, I. (27 noviembre 2017). Registran 83 casos de desplazamiento forzado en 2017. El Mundo. Retrieved from elmundo.sv/registran-83-casos-de-desplazamiento-forzado-en-2017

Hannah Rose Nelson