When Your Life Doesn’t Matter: Women on the Run


November 16, 2015

Tens of thousands of women have been forced to flee their homelands in the Northern Triangle region of Central America, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and parts of Mexico. Since 2008, UNHCR (The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)says the number seeking safety and protection in the United States, has increased five-fold.

Women on the Run

This refugee crisis is detailed in a new report, Women on the Run. Based on a study conducted by UNHCR, it includes first-hand accounts of refugees fleeing the Northern Triangle region; stories like Alba’s, a 32-year-old mother from El Salvador. Alba’s daughter lives with her, but her son is still with her mom in El Salvador.

The violence and persecution these women faced in their home countries, was intensified by the lack of protection available. This deep sense of vulnerability and helplessness ultimately forced them to leave their homes.

Since 2008 the number of women fleeing the Northern Triangle and seeking safety in the U.S. has increased five-fold.

Eighty-five percent of the women interviewed for the study described living in neighborhoods controlled by criminal armed groups and a staggering one hundred percent of the women who reported attacks (including sexual assaults and threats) to the police said they received ineffective protection or no protection at all from police or other government officials.

LanaWomen and children who are refugees desperately need protection, and UNHCR is calling on governments to collaborate for solutions addressing violence, insecurity, and other causes behind this displacement from Central America’s Northern Triangle region.

Take Action Challenge

Few of us can imagine having to leave our families because we are frightened for our lives and those of our children. Women on the Run provides personal stories of women who have fled fear and violence in their home countries. Using your voice to share their stories is an important way to bring awareness to what’s happening in Central America.

Many find themselves in a situation of statelessness, meaning they don’t have access to education, medical care, or employment. UNHCR’s #IBelong campaign acknowledges the injustice of this situation and states everyone deserves the basic human rights having a nationality provides. You can read and sign their open letter to end statelessness and be part of the global movement to end these injustices.

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