Gang violence in the Honduran capital forces residents to flee homes. Yiming Woo reports.
There's a mass of abandoned homes, with many residents fleeing the Honduran capital. Suburbs have become war zones as rival gangs fight for control of territory to push drugs or extort cash. This empty shop has been marked with the tag of the highly violent Mara 18 gang. Honduras has the world's highest murder rates, fueled by gang warfare and drugs violence. Trader Federico Aguila Colindres has stayed. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EXTORTION VICTIM, TRADER, FEDERICO AGUILA COLINDRES, SAYING: "In seeing that I wouldn't give the extortionists the money, they shot me first in the leg and so I began to give in. I started to give them the money." Thousands have fled to other parts of the country but many are seeking refuge in the U.S. or Mexico. A U.N. representative based in Central America says they've been left with no choice. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) REGIONAL DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE FOR UNHCR (UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES) FOR CENTRAL AMERICA, CUBA AND MEXICO, JOSE XAVIER SAMANIEGO, SAYING: "This is a forced displacement phenomenon caused by the activities of organised crime and other violent situations such as gangs in certain neighbourhoods. This is forced displacement, because it doesn't give you an choice. To save your life, your only option is to move." Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez says the military and police have been making more arrests and keeping streets safe.