El Salvador

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was present in El Salvador between 1980 and 1993 during its internal armed conflict and resumed operations in the country in 2012 to protect the lives and dignity of people affected by armed violence. 

During an accompaniment meeting, an ICRC employee speaks with the families of missing migrants in San Salvador.

Our work in El Salvador

The ICRC maintained a constant presence in El Salvador during the internal armed conflict, which lasted from 1980 to 1993. In April 2012, we reopened our office in the country to protect and help the victims of armed violence, including migrants, displaced people, the missing and their families and communities affected by violence. We also visit some places of detention in the country and provide advice and technical support to the prison authorities.

The ICRC works with the Salvadorean Red Cross Society to help migrants restore and maintain contact with their loved ones through free phone calls and Red Cross messages under its Restoring Family Links (RFL) programme.

As part of its humanitarian work, the ICRC advises the authorities on assisting the families of missing people and provides training in forensic identification for government institutions working in this field. We also provide recommendations to help prevent people going missing and promote the use of standard information protocols. We support families that have set up committees together to search for loved ones who have gone missing as a result of migration or violence.

The ICRC’s work is strictly humanitarian and guided at all times by the Fundamental Principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence.

ICRC offices supporting the region: Our work in El Salvador is supported by our regional delegation in Mexico, which also covers Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize.

San Salvador, Cojutepeque Penal Center. A detainee weaving a hammock.

The impact of our work

Salvadorans received messages as part of a public awareness campaign about the consequences of children and young people going missing
families benefited from government and community psychological and psychosocial services supported and strengthened by the ICRC, with 82% of the participants showing an improvement in their psychological and psychosocial well-being.
detainees have better access to water, thanks to improvements to the water pumping system promoted by the ICRC at two priority prisons.
detainees have access to health care at a clinic which has been extended by the ICRC.

The stories of the people we help

My heart is incomplete. I have cried here in Mexico, in the United States, while travelling with the caravan of mothers. When my son left, half of my heart went with him. He was found in an unmarked mass grave in 2011, and his remains weren’t repatriated until 2015. It was a very harrowing process that turned into a battle because they wanted to cremate him and I wanted his remains returned to me, not his ashes. I’m still receiving psychotherapy now. I feel terrible grief and cry a lot; sometimes the pain eases, but it always comes back. We are still involved in the truth and justice process because we need to know what happened to my son and why.

Bertilia a mother whose son went missing as a young man

I feel very privileged to be on this basic emergency care (BEC) course that is taking place thanks to the support of the ICRC. It will greatly improve the emergency care we provide for our patients. Salvadorans will benefit from this, as we have high levels of violence and high numbers of traffic accidents, burn victims and work-related accidents.

María Salomé coordinating nurse at the Apopa emergency care facility

We have seen an enormous change. Our community had been abandoned; there is no doubt about that. We were stigmatized – nobody wanted to visit us, and when we went elsewhere, we would have problems if we said where we were from. Now, doors have been opened, thanks to the ICRC.

Silvia Cabrera representative of the San Leonardo Community Development Association

Our services in El Salvador

  • We share practical information with migrants in an effort to help them avoid and reduce the risks they face when they are on the move and to facilitate their access to humanitarian services, such as shelters, soup kitchens and health care. We do this through various channels: WhatsApp (+521 55 80 12 90 55), the RedSafe digital platform, Facebook and our webpage.

Contact us


7° Calle Poniente #3962, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador, El Salvador


+503 22632610

Opening Hours:

9am – 6pm

Our work with the Salvadorean Red Cross Society

We work in coordination with our partner, the Salvadorean Red Cross Society, to prevent and mitigate the humanitarian consequences of violence and deliver humanitarian aid to those in need.