In January 1981, following the increase of guerrilla activity, the war expanded across the country and insurgents established “control zones”, which were under the control of guerrilla forces.
In December, the Atlacatl battalion massacred a thousand people in the area of El Mozote. This caused new groups to flee on foot towards the Colomoncagua refugee camp under the protection of UNHCR.
"When the army came, the ones who managed to get out of our homes in time survived, the others died. When we came back everything had been destroyed: homes, animals, the corn. There was no hope of living there, so we came to the shelter in Honduras." - Maria Martinez, La Guacamaya
According to data from the UNHCR, Central America and Mexico had 245,500 Salvadoran refugees in either camps or in the general population.