The Government of Colombia is implementing a peace accord with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, after more than 50 years of conflict, and is also engaged in bilateral talks with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) guerrilla. However, civilians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of the ever increasing violence by several armed groups, including some new ones.
Since January 2016, more than 186 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated according to Colombia’s Defensoría del Pueblo. In 2017, an additional 139 359 new IDPs have been reported by OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), including 55 massive displacement events between January and October, mostly in the Pacific region, largely affecting indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. In addition, the situation in Venezuela and consequent population displacement into Colombia is of concern.
The main needs for conflict-affected populations include protection, food assistance, access to healthcare, education in emergencies, and safe water. Refugees and IDPs require temporary housing and basic household items, and psychological support and assistance to apply for legal assistance or refugee status.
Colombia is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, and highly vulnerable to climate change-induced disasters. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, severe recurrent floods, and droughts affect millions throughout the country. The European Commission’s disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience programmes focus on rural, urban and peri-urban communities in disaster-prone areas, to support local communities and institutions involved in disaster risk management.
The European Commission pays special attention to victims of forgotten crises - severe, protracted humanitarian crises where affected populations are receiving insufficient international aid, such as Colombia. With more than €231.2 million in humanitarian aid since 1994, Colombia is the largest recipient of the Commission's humanitarian aid in Latin America.
In 2017 alone, the Commission allocated €3.6 million in aid to Colombia. The needs of Colombians affected by the conflict, including IDPs, communities isolated or confined by the conflict, refugees, and people in need of international protection (PNIP) in neighbouring countries, mainly Ecuador and Venezuela, account for 88% of the Commission's humanitarian funds (€204.6 million) since 1994. Response to natural disasters accounts for 7% of the funding (€14.9 million). Projects to strengthen communities and institutions’ preparedness to face natural hazards make up 5% (€11.7 million) of the Commission's humanitarian funding since 1994.
Colombians affected by the conflict, whether in their communities or displaced by the violence, including those seeking refuge in neighboring countries, are a priority for the Commission's humanitarian aid which focuses on providing protection, health care, water and sanitation to vulnerable groups such as women, children, as well as indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations. The Commission is also strengthening food assistance, particularly for those whose livelihoods are constrained by armed groups, and supports education in emergencies to ensure that internally displaced children or refugee minors in Ecuador and Venezuela do not miss out on their schooling.
The Commission’s emphasis on reducing the risks associated with natural hazards increases the resilience and preparedness of the populations most vulnerable to floods, droughts, landslides, and earthquakes. Disaster risk reduction and capacity-building is integrated into all projects, with an aim to limit the impact of natural hazards and to strengthen the response capacity of communities and institutions. In 2017, the programme allocated €900 000 to fund one project in Colombia, one bi-national and two regional projects covering Colombia.