The Government of Colombia signed a peace agreement with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, in 2016. However, several other armed groups remain active across the country, and civilians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing violence. Colombia also hosts more than 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees. The country is among the most disaster-prone areas of the world with millions of its citizens exposed to natural hazards and climate-related events.
Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world with over 8 million people. In 2019, more than 400,000 people were affected by collective displacement, restrictions on humanitarian access and mobility, and forced confinement imposed by armed actors (OCHA). More than 180,000 Colombian refugees sought asylum in neighbouring countries (UNHCR).
The conflict continues to affect Afro-Colombians and indigenous communities, and civilians are systematic targets of violent attacks. According to the UN, 446 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated since the Peace Agreement, and 246 people have been killed in 61 massacres in 2020 - the highest number since 2014.
Conflict-affected populations need protection, food, healthcare, education and safe water. While refugees and IDPs require temporary housing and basic household items, as well as psychological and legal support.
The displacement of population into Colombia from Venezuela is also a concern: over 1.8 million Venezuelans are registered in Colombia, often living in situations of extreme vulnerability.
The pandemic has severely impacted the vulnerable populations, as most work in the informal economy and face difficulties in covering basic daily needs. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 7 million people are food insecure.
In 2020, the European Union allocated almost €24 million in humanitarian assistance to Colombia. The EU pays special attention to the victims of forgotten crises. These are severe, protracted humanitarian crises where affected people do not receive sufficient international aid, as it is the case in Colombia. With more than €294 million funds received since 1994, Colombia is the largest historical recipient of EU humanitarian aid in Latin America.
Colombians affected by the conflict, whether in their communities or displaced by the violence (including those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries), are a priority for the EU’s humanitarian aid. The EU’s assistance 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.
Since 2017, Colombia is among the areas of intervention where, as part of its regional humanitarian response, the EU has funded more than 30 humanitarian projects to support the 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees living in the country to guarantee that they have adequate access to healthcare, education and protection.
Besides, the EU is providing immediate, targeted support to address the humanitarian consequences of the spread of coronavirus in Colombia, either through adaptation of ongoing projects or new funding in the health, water, sanitation and hygiene sectors. Particular attention is being given to indigenous communities living in the country´s remotest areas hit by the virus. In August 2020, the EU mobilised €500,000 for an emergency intervention aimed at providing indigenous communities in the Amazonas department with healthcare services, water sanitation systems, hygiene and livelihood kits, to minimise their risks of contracting coronavirus.
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.