In 2016, after more than 50 years of conflict, the Government of Colombia signed a peace agreement with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC. However, several other armed groups remain active across the country, and civilians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing violence. Colombia also shelters more than 1.1 million Venezuelans who have left their country.
Due to the ongoing violence, humanitarian needs were on the rise in 2018, with an 89 percent increase in the number of civilians forcibly displaced by armed violence. Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced people with over 7.4 million registered in the country. Additionally, Over 360 000 Colombian refugees have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and need protection. More than 416 community leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated in the past two years.
The main needs for conflict-affected populations include protection, food assistance, access to healthcare, education in emergencies, and safe water. Refugees and internally displaced people require temporary housing and basic household items (hygiene kits, kitchen utensils), as well as psychological support and assistance to apply for legal assistance or refugee status.
In addition, the unfolding crisis in Venezuela and consequent population displacement into Colombia is an issue of concern: over one million Venezuelans are registered in Colombia, and they often live in situations of extreme vulnerability.
Colombia is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, severe recurrent floods and droughts affect millions throughout the country.
The European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) pays special attention to victims of forgotten crises - severe, protracted humanitarian crises where affected people do not receive sufficient international aid, such as Colombia. With more than €241 million in humanitarian aid since 1994, Colombia is the largest recipient of EU humanitarian aid in Latin America. In 2018 alone, the Commission allocated more than €9.6 million in aid to Colombia.
The needs of Colombians affected by the conflict, including internally displaced people, communities isolated or confined by the conflict, refugees, and people in need of international protection in neighbouring countries (mainly Ecuador and Venezuela) account for 88 percent of the EU’s humanitarian funding since 1994. Response to natural disasters accounts for seven percent of the funding. Finally, projects to strengthen communities’ and institutions’ preparedness for natural hazards make up the remaining five percent of funding.
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 EU’s humanitarian aid, which focuses on providing protection, healthcare, water and sanitation to vulnerable groups such as women, children, and indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations.
The EU also focuses on strengthening food assistance, particularly for those whose livelihoods are constrained by armed groups, and support for education in emergencies to ensure that internally displaced children or refugee minors in Ecuador and Venezuela do not miss their schooling.
The EU strives to reduce the risks associated with natural hazards and increase the resilience and preparedness of people who are most vulnerable to floods, droughts, landslides and earthquakes. Disaster preparedness and capacity-building are integrated into all projects to limit the impact of natural hazards, and to strengthen the response capacity of communities and institutions.