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Gang Violence in El Salvador

In August, there were 900 murders in El Salvador. That's a staggering 30 a day. More than one an hour.

The violence is seen largely as a product of two warring criminal gangs, MS-13 and the rival Barrio 18. There are very few communities in the country where these gangs aren't present.  

Every day, more young people are being recruited. Those born into the challenges of poverty are particularly attracted to the sense of purpose and companionship the gangs offer.“The main reason why children go into gangs is family disintegration,” explains Guillermo Iraheta, Compassion El Salvador’s Research Specialist. “To this you add the poverty levels and the violence within the family that the children have to suffer.”

But thanks to our El Salvadorian church partners, young people are being offered an alternative future. “Eighty of our projects are located in the most conflicted areas of the country,” says Iraheta. "These churches are in areas where violence, crime and murders are so high that even the police think twice before going."

  • Please pray for protection for the 50,250 children and young people registered in the Compassion programme in El Salvador. 
  • Lift up Compassion's project workers and partner churches as they come alongside young people like Jimmy. Read how Jimmy was rescued after he was recruited to a gang.  

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