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 has also engaged in bilateral talks with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) guerrilla. Since January 2016, more than 186 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated.
Civilians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing violence by several armed groups. With more than 7.3 million IDPs, Colombia has the world’s largest displacement caseload. In addition, over 700 000 Venezuelans have entered Colombia in 2017.
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 (hygiene kits, kitchen utensils), as well as psychological support and assistance to apply for legal assistance or refugee status.
Colombia has more than 7.3 million IDPs, and despite ongoing peace negotiations, many regions continue to face violence, forced displacement, forced recruitment of children and sexual or gender-based violence. 360 000 Colombian refugees have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, where they are vulnerable and need protection. In 2017, 140 000 new IDPs have been reported by UNOCHA. In addition, the situation in Venezuela and consequent population displacement into Colombia is of concern and over 700 000 Venezuelans have entered Colombia in 2017.
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 Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) 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 €239 million in humanitarian aid since 1994, Colombia is the largest recipient of the Commission's humanitarian aid in Latin America. In 2018 alone, the Commission allocated more than €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 since 1994. Response to natural disasters accounts for 7% of the funding. Projects to strengthen communities and institutions’ preparedness to face natural hazards make up 5% of the Commission's humanitarian 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 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 EU also emphasizes strengthening food assistance, particularly for those whose livelihoods are constrained by armed groups, and support to education in emergencies, to ensure that internally displaced children or refugee minors in Ecuador and Venezuela do not interrupt their schooling.
The Commission’s emphasis on reducing the risks associated with natural hazards increases the resilience and preparedness of populations most vulnerable to floods, droughts, landslides and earthquakes. Disaster Risk Reduction and capacity-building is integrated into all projects, so as to limit the impact of natural hazards and to strengthen the response capacity of communities and institutions. In 2018, the programme is also funding three specific dedicated projects in Colombia with €1 million.