Central America • El Salvador

Escape from violence: integration of displaced families

More than 200 000 people in El Salvador are displaced within the country every year. Many attempt to secure a source of income but most people have had to flee from violence. Our partner organisation CRISTOSAL works with the innocent civilians and supports them with the integration within the host communities.

In community meetings, for example, the inhabitants of the host communities are informed about the rights of internally displaced persons (Photo: CRISTOSAL) In community meetings, for example, the inhabitants of the host communities are informed about the rights of internally displaced persons (Photo: CRISTOSAL)

San Salvador is one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world. Criminal gangs, the maras, have entire neighbourhoods under their control and terrorize the population. They often force young people to join their gang and demand entrance examinations, such as the killing of an opposing gang member. After Syria and Lesotho, El Salvador is the third most dangerous country in the world for women - with 9.4 femicides per 100,000 inhabitants per year.

Many families are therefore forced to leave their home communities in order to protect their lives. They flee from the violence. Many try to get to the USA, but more than 200,000 people a year migrate within the country. The government, however, does not recognize this phenomenon: The victims are neither officially registered nor do they receive official support.

Our partner organization CRISTOSAL works with displaced families and helps them to integrate in the new communities. They also aim to raise awareness among host communities so people can better understand and deal appropriately with the situation. CRISTOSAL has developed its own three-phase model for this purpose:

  •  humanitarian aid with shelters and psychological crisis management
  • transitional care with further psychosocial support and the development of a new life plan
  • social integration into the host communities, working with the family as well as with the members of the community and community representatives

Social integration in the host communities

Our joint project contributes to the last two phases: The stabilizing transitional care creates the basis for a new life for the families in their host communities. They are emotionally strengthened and informed about their right. Together with the family, social workers develop a life plan in which goals for the future are set. The support system of professionals and non-professionals encourages positive thinking and rebuilds trust. This also includes a new financial start: through income-generating measures or small projects, families are supported in earning their own living. In order for this to work, they receive training and education.

The third phase is about integration and participation in the community. This is not only about the families, but also about the environment: This includes, for example, access to education for children and young people or access to the public health system. Also, families are asked to participate in the community life. In order for integration to succeed, the project needs to establish successful communication with the host communities. The residents are, for example, informed about the situation and rights of displaced persons with the aim that they meet the newcomers without prejudice. As part of the project, 50 community representatives will be trained in the following topics: Human rights and the rights of internally displaced persons, strategies for social integration and income-generating measures. They should lobby with community organizations, especially women's and youth organizations, and also sensitize the public to the situation of internally displaced people.

Project information

ProjectIntegration of due to violence displaced families
Place/RegionFive municipalities in the cantons of Agua Zarca, Cerritos, Progreso, Tijeritas in the municipality of Torola and the district capital of Torola in the department of Morazán
Target group

100 persons/20 internally displaced families and families from the host communities and 50 representatives of the communities

  • Psychosocial care and shelters as emergency aid
  • Support for integration into host communities
  • Preparation of life plans and support for income-generating measures
  • Access to public services
  • Creation of an atmosphere of acceptance by the host community
  • Training of community representatives and community organizations to support displaced families
Budget60.000 Euro p. a.

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