Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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What are the needs?

Civilians in Colombia continue to be affected by the humanitarian consequences of a decades-long internal armed conflict: forced recruitment, sexual violence, murder, kidnapping, restriction of movement, lack of access to goods and services and forced displacement. Colombia has the second highest world's population of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world (after Syria): 5.2 million according to the government and 5.7 million according to local NGOs and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Some 150 000 people are internally displaced each year. The conflict has also forced civilians to flee to neighbouring countries – mainly Ecuador and Venezuela. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), almost 396 000 Colombians are in need of international protection in those two countries alone.

Victims of the conflict are in dire need for assistance. The conflict’s dynamics often hampers access to basic services such as healthcare, education, safe water, especially in remote zones. People forced to leave their home for their own survival are in need of temporary housing and basic household items (hygiene kits, kitchen utensils), as well as psychological support and legal protection.

How are we helping?

Helping people affected by conflict

The main beneficiaries of European humanitarian aid are IDPs and refugees, as well as rural victims of the conflict. Special attention is given to vulnerable groups, particularly women, children, indigenous and Afro-Colombians. Projects run by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have focused on providing food aid, seeds, healthcare, water, sanitation, and protection. In line with humanitarian principles, ECHO aid goes to the areas most affected by the conflict, where there is limited government's presence or access. Colombia is included in ECHO’s list of forgotten crisis, so activities also aim at raising awareness about the consequences of the conflict and the need to respect International Humanitarian Law. In 2013, €13.5 million were granted to assist the victims of the conflict.

Colombian children (IDPs and refugees) are among the beneficiaries of the 'EU children of Peace' initiative, created with the funds of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the EU in 2012. These projects focus on providing protection and education to children affected by violence and conflict worldwide.

Addressing disasters

Helping people affected by natural hazards such as floods or earthquakes is also at the core of ECHO’s mandate. Relief efforts focus on the provision of food, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene services, and non-food items such as jerry cans, water filters, mattresses and mosquito nets. Since 1994, €11 million have been allocated to Colombia to respond to disasters triggered by natural hazards. ECHO also funds projects to strengthen the response capacity of communities and local authorities to face natural hazards, by improving infrastructure, drafting emergency plans, installing early warning systems, implementing information and education campaigns. The 2013-2014 Disaster Preparedness action plan (DIPECHO) provides €1.3 million of funding for three projects in Colombia.

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