UN warns of murder crisis in Central America

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Honduras and El Salvador have the highest homicide rates in the world as killings reach a crisis point in Central America, the United Nations has warned.

The study on homicides by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime blamed organised crime for the region’s surge in violence.

Honduras had 6,200 killings in 2010 out of a population of 7.7 million people, while El Salvador, with 6.1 million people, had 4,000 homicides.

The 2011 Global Study on Homicide calculated a rate of 82.1 homicides per 100,000 people for Honduras and 66 per 100,000 people for El Salvador.

Cote D’Ivoire in West Africa followed with 56.9 and the Jamaica with 52.1.

Honduras Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio said he was worried about rising crime and feared worse figures are yet to come. “We Hondurans have lost the right to live without fear,” he added.

Mr Custodio said the enemy in the 1980s was the army, police and secret corps, but now the threat was organised crime.

Caribbean countries, most notably Jamaica, have also been affected by drug-related violence, the report said.

Mexico has seen a 65 per cent increase in killings since President Felipe Calderon launched his offensive against drug cartels in late 2006, the report found. The country is considered part of Central America in the report.

It had a homicide rate of 18.1 per 100,000 people last year, among the lowest in the region, although the 112 million-person nation dominates headlines for its brutal killings and bloody drug gang turf battles.

The UN said Mexico’s violence is concentrated in the three northern states of Chihuahua, Baja California and Sinaloa and in the Pacific resort state of Guerrero.

Meanwhile, a Mexican drug gang was blamed for killing 32 people whose bodies were found at three houses in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara says the same New Generation gang killed 35 people whose bodies were dumped in the Veracruz state capital last month. Marines arrested eight members of the gang and they revealed where the bodies were buried.