IOM Responds to Eta's Aftermath in Central America: 2.5 Million People Affected

Date Publish: 

San José (Costa Rica) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has joined the efforts of the United Nations System and other humanitarian and governmental actors to respond to Hurricane Eta, an emergency impacting 2.5 million people across Central America as authorities monitor a new storm emerging in the Caribbean.

IOM personnel in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize have traveled to the most affected areas –since Eta made landfall on 3 November, to distribute thousands of emergency kits, including kitchen sets, mattresses, sheets and hygiene products. 

In Honduras, where 1.8 million people have been impacted by the Category 4 storm, IOM has already delivered more than 39,000 personal protection items in an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, as well as hygiene kits, blankets, clothes and water bags.

In Nicaragua, IOM in coordination with local NGOs and civil society organizations present in affected areas will assist the delivery of food kits and hygiene items. In Mexico, IOM will distribute humanitarian aid to seven shelters in the south of the country while evaluating the extent to which shelters in Chiapas have been affected.

The deployment of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) teams has also begun. DTM will collect critical information on the population displacements caused by Hurricane Eta, facilitating decision-making that can save lives in the coming weeks and aid the recovery of the affected areas. 

As the leader of the humanitarian cluster focused on shelter management (Camp Coordination and Camp Management), IOM coordinates UN efforts with the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to ensure the provision of services and avoid overlap of efforts and reduce gaps in humanitarian care. According to OCHA, in the three countries of northern Central America, at least 358,000 people are temporarily housed in schools and other buildings. "The most immediate needs are food, protection and shelter for the affected people, as well as other basic items that help guarantee their dignity," said Jorge Peraza, IOM Chief of Mission in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

"Hurricane Eta has exacerbated social and economic conditions that were already present in some sectors of the countries of northern Central America, adding to the vulnerabilities the people there already face." 
IOM’s Regional Director for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean is particularly worried about the destruction of crops and the impact on local economies in some parts of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.
"The damage there can worsen the conditions of economic instability and food insecurity that have forced thousands of Central Americans to migrate in search of better living conditions," said Michele Klein-Solomon. "What Hurricane Eta has left behind is not only a huge humanitarian calamity that requires immediate attention, but also the seed of future migration crises that we must try to prevent," explained Klein-Solomon.

The US National Hurricane Center warns that a tropical wave slowly moving westward through the Caribbean has an 80 per cent chance of becoming another major storm in the next 48 hours, possibly impacting the same areas as Hurricane Eta.

For further information, please contact Jorge Gallo at IOM’s Regional Office for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean, Email:, Tel: +506 72036536


Hurricane Eta; Honduras; Nicaragua; El Salvador; Guatemala; Central America; Climate

Gavi and IOM Join Forces to Improve Immunization Coverage for Migrants

Date Publish: 
25 / 11 / 2020

Geneva – Today, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their collaboration on vaccination efforts and related health services for migrants and forcibly displaced persons across the world, both regarding routine immunizations as well as in response to outbreaks. This milestone will be particularly critical in ensuring that migrants and other people on the move are considered and included, as the world continues its efforts to find a safe COVID-19 vaccine and is developing mechanisms, such as the COVAX Facility, to ensure a fair distribution so that as many lives as possible can be saved.

“Despite enormous progress over the past two decades ensuring children everywhere have access to lifesaving vaccines, 14 million children every year still miss out on basic vaccines,” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley. “We know a disproportionate amount of these unprotected children come from migrant, refugee and displaced populations, who are too often overlooked when it comes to basic health care. This obviously becomes all the more important as we plan to rollout COVID-19 vaccines worldwide; we cannot allow these populations to miss out on what could be one of our best routes out of this pandemic. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with IOM, to help provide a healthier future to some of the most vulnerable people on earth.”

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools we have to keep people on the move, the communities they leave behind and the communities they join as safe and healthy as possible,” stressed IOM Director General António Vitorino. “This reinforced partnership will be critical in helping IOM achieve just that and contribute tangibly to the realization of true universal health coverage.”

The agreement signed by the two organizations focuses on reaching missed communities in humanitarian and emergency settings with vaccination and support routine immunization through engagement in primary health care systems. The partnership also aims to boost advocacy for the prioritization of vulnerable populations, support operational and policy assistance and facilitate technical collaboration. Specifically, the memorandum of understanding seeks to facilitate collaboration on ensuring the inclusion of migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in governments’ COVID-19 responses, in particular vaccination efforts.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. Gavi has already been working with IOM in South Sudan since 2019 to ensure vaccinations reached hard-to-reach populations throughout the country.

For decades, hand in hand with its partners, IOM has been a key player in global efforts to ensure that migrants and other people on the move have proper access to vaccines across 80 countries. In 2019, more than 380,000 children under the age of five were vaccinated against polio and/or measles in emergency settings and, as part of IOM’s pre-migration health services, over 445,800 vaccination doses were administered to close to 181,350 migrants and refugees in the process of migration. In all of its migration health assessment centres, the Organization manages a robust vaccine distribution and storage system, with staff continuously trained and up-to-date with international standards.

“For the distribution of any potential COVID-19 vaccine to be as fair and equitable as possible, IOM will be contributing its health expertise, data and other technical capacities based on its vast experience working with migrants and forcibly displaced persons,” said Director General Vitorino. “It is critical for everyone’s well-being not to leave the most at-risk behind.”

For more information, please contact James Fulker at Gavi, or Yasmina Guerda at IOM,