Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 - Guatemala

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 17 May 2010
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 - Guatemala, 17 May 2010, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPsUndetermined
Percentage of total population--
Start of current displacement situation1980
Peak number of IDPs (Year)1,500,000 (1983)
New displacementUndetermined
Causes of displacementInternal armed conflict, human rights violations
Human development index122

Between 500,000 and 1.5 million people were displaced by internal armed conflict in Guatemala in the early 1980s. The conflict between government forces and insurgent factions grouped under the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity ended in 1996, but not before the armed forces had carried out brutal "scorched-earth" campaigns to crush the insurgents.

The end of conflict in 1996 left large numbers of IDPs dispersed across the country, many of them in the shanty towns of the capital Guatemala City. These IDPs joined the ranks of the poorest citizens. The widespread harsh poverty in the country, and the additional difficulties associated with forced displacement, suggest that many people will have been unable to rebuild their lives. An unprecedented food crisis hit the country in late 2009, and the country now has the highest rate of malnutrition among children under five in Latin America.

13 years after the end of the conflict, little progress had been made in implementing the measures for reparations included in the peace accords. In 2009, however, it was reported that spending on reparations increased and that more than 10,000 survivors of the armed conflict had received reparations for violations suffered. IDP groups have negotiated collective reparations measures, including memorials and money to buy land.

Recently, it has been reported that gang violence has forced people from their homes, especially in poor neighbourhoods in urban centres where IDPs settled during the conflict. In Ciudad Quetzal, an impoverished neighbourhood of Guatemala City, it was reported that owners had abandoned their homes to escape violence and threats from gangs. Community leaders in Villa Nueva near Guatemala City have estimated that five per cent of families there have had to resettle after they failed to pay the illegal taxes imposed by those groups. The government has proved unable to provide security, accountability, and access to justice. The UN's International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, the first of its kind, continued its work towards addressing these problems in 2009.

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