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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© OXFAM, 2020
Central America and Mexico



In Central America and Mexico, climate change, droughts, storms, COVID-19, criminality, and political instability have exacerbated food insecurity especially.

According to the Global Report on Food Crises, in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, at least 8.4 million people require food assistance.

Pervasive violence and social unrest have forced almost 1 million people into internal displacement and more than 600,000 have become refugees and asylum seekers. The EU has supported the region for more than 28 years.

What are the needs?

Continental and extra-continental refugees and migrants keep moving through the region: over 130,000 people crossed the Darien Gap in 2021, one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes and 1.7 million people tried to cross into the US.

In Northern Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) and Mexico, extreme violence has caused a severe humanitarian crisis. This has triggered needs like those typical of conflict areas: (i) displacement, (ii) forced child recruitment, (iii) sexual and gender-based violence, (iv) lack of access to basic services, and (v) extortion.

In Nicaragua, the government repression continues while the humanitarian space shrinks, forcing people to leave.

In 2021, Nicaragua accounted for the world’s second largest number of displaced people after Afghanistan. Most of them cross into Costa Rica, which, according to the UN Refugee Agency, has become the world’s 4th largest recipient of asylum applications, while Mexico is the 3rd.

Vulnerable people require humanitarian assistance for basic needs such as health, water and sanitation, shelter, as well as safety, protection, and recovery of resources.

Asylum seekers also face the challenge of the uncertain legal status in host countries. This might limit their access to services and employment and increases xenophobia and discrimination.

Map Central America and Mexico

How are we helping?

Since 1994, the EU has allocated €309 million in humanitarian aid to Central America and Mexico.

Of this funding, over €209 million helped respond to emergencies such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, epidemics, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, internal displacement, and violence. The remaining funding helped vulnerable communities build resilience to face future disasters.

Since 2019, the EU has allocated over €76.4 million to respond to different humanitarian crises:

  • recurrent droughts in the Dry Corridor of Central America
  • the dengue epidemic in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
  • COVID-19
  • tropical storm Amanda in Guatemala and El Salvador
  • the devastating hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

EU humanitarian funding supports projects providing protection to displaced people across Central America, to children and families in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica affected by violence.

We also provide support to the victims of Nicaragua’s civil unrest, both inside and outside the country.

Disaster preparedness is an integral part of EU-funded humanitarian projects, with targeted actions focusing on strengthening local communities and institutions. This enables them to identify risks and mitigation measures before natural hazards affect them.

Disaster preparedness actions include risk, forecast-based and anticipatory actions, preparedness in conflict and fragile settings, including displacement patterns and protection issues, climate and environmental resilience, and urban preparedness.

The EU’s satellite system COPERNICUS was activated in 2020 and 2021 to provide free imagery to support the response to the floods in the northern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua after the 2 devastating hurricanes Eta and Iota hit only 15 days apart.

The EU activated its Civil Protection Mechanism to assist Guatemala’s national response system in tackling the forest fires in April 2019. The Mechanism was also triggered after the COVID-19 outbreak to respond to the need for medical supplies, including vaccinations and equipment in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The response also helped coordinate repatriation flights of EU citizens stranded in the region.

Last updated: 12/10/2022

Facts & figures

About 1 million internally displaced persons in Central America and Mexico

Over 850,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Northern Central America worldwide

8.4 million people in need of food assistance

EU humanitarian funding:
€309 million since 1994
€76.4 million for 2019-2022

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