What are the needs?
With more than 6.4 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs), Colombia has the world’s second largest number after Syria (according to government figures for 1985-2015). An additional 200 000 people are displaced internally each year by the ongoing conflict, and 397 000 Colombian refugees are in need of international protection in Ecuador and Venezuela (UNHCR's 2014 figures).
The main needs for conflict-affected populations, especially in remote regions, are protection, access to health care, education and safe water, as well as food assistance. Refugees and IDPs often need temporary housing and basic household items (hygiene kits, kitchen utensils), as well as psychological support and legal protection.
Colombia is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, and one of the most vulnerable to climate change-induced natural hazards. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, severe recurrent floods and droughts affect millions throughout the country.
How are we helping?
Assisting people affected by conflict
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is funding the provision of protection, health care, water and sanitation to some of the most vulnerable Colombians affected by the conflict: women, children, indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations.
Colombian children (IDPs and refugees) are also among the beneficiaries of the EU Children of Peace initiative. These projects aim at assisting minors and youth at risk of displacement or being recruited by armed groups, by providing protected spaces for educational and recreational activities such as schools and shelters.
For 2015, ECHO has allocated €11.4 million to assist the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, as well as in Ecuador and Venezuela.
The Government of Colombia initiated peace talks in 2012 with the country’s largest guerrilla group, FARC. Nevertheless, despite some improvements in the humanitarian situation, the conflict continues to cause widespread suffering and ongoing displacement, spilling over to neighbouring Ecuador and Venezuela. Should a peace agreement be reached, humanitarian issues will remain a priority, particularly for marginalised and victimised communities such as indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians and women.
Helping people affected by natural hazards and increasing their resilience and preparedness is also at the core of ECHO’s mandate. Since 1994, ECHO has allocated €15.4 million to respond to disasters triggered by natural hazards. Projects to strengthen communities and institutions' preparedness to face natural hazards amount to €9.3 million of European Commission's funds.
For 2015, €1.8 million have been allocated through ECHO’s Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) for activities aimed at strengthening the response capacity of Colombian communities and local authorities to face natural hazards.