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2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview: Colombia (Nov 2018)

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Over the past five years, and as part of the humanitarian programming cycle, the number of annual People in Need in Colombia was identified with a group of partners from the Humanitarian Country Team in coordination with State counterparts. The historical impact on millions of people due to different humanitarian emergencies as a consequence of the armed conflict, armed violence and natural disaster events, has required the complementary presence and intervention of the State by both national and international humanitarian organizations.

After four years of Peace Talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP guerrillas, a Peace Agreement was signed. This major event should have also represented humanitarian relief for many regions of the country which had been hit for years by the armed conflict. However, the deterioration of the internal humanitarian situation in Colombia is reflected by the more than 5.1 million people in need calculated for 2019, as we document here.

Combined with this scenario of violent conflict, there are an additional 1.9 million estimated People in Need including Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities who have arrived in Colombia with preexisting needs and who are exposed to risks and the impact of the existing humanitarian context inside of Colombia.

According to data provided by the Regional Platform coordinated by UNHCR and IOM, the situation in Venezuela has obliged more than 3 million people to leave that country since 2015, Colombia being the main country of destination and transit.

With the goal of prioritizing, planning and managing resources for an adequate humanitarian response, carried out in an integral, inter-sectoral manner, the HNO 2019 includes a special chapter which describes needs and identifies locations where there is a cross-over between different internal and external impacts in the country, leading to double and even triple affectation1.
One of the greatest challenges today is to be able to systematically report on collective results and accomplishments, based on evidence (HNO), and with an objective planning framework utilizing common goals and indicators (HRP); it should be mentioned that these accomplishments require rigorous and systematic monitoring of changes against a baseline taking into account the results of proposed interventions.


The increase and persistence of humanitarian needs, protection risks and violations of Human Rights and Infractions of International Humanitarian Law, are all causes for concern for the international community, different sectors of civil society and the Government of Colombia. Vulnerable communities suffer the impact of new conflict dynamics, an increase in violence, natural disaster events and migration, where structural problems related to inequality, exclusion and extreme poverty worsen their living conditions and represent a threat against their lives and dignity.
In 2018, in a change from earlier years, the humanitarian impact due to a convergence of emergencies related to the conflict, an increase in armed violence, and the occurrence of natural and man-made disasters, resulted in more than 5.1 million people in need2 in different sectors and regions of Colombia. The regions of greatest concentration of humanitarian impact included the Northeastern border with Venezuela, the southern border with Ecuador and the Pacific coast bordering Panama, as well as the northwest region.

A total of 268 municipalities were prioritized. This prioritization increases the visibility of needs for assistance and strengthening of humanitarian actors and protection and the need for maintaining coordination spaces active in complementarity with the State.

The persistence of armed actions and attacks against civilians continues to leave victims, along with Human Rights violations, infractions of IHL and resulting humanitarian emergencies. In 2018, the juncture of the increasing arrival of refugees, migrants and returnees from Venezuela since 2017 is explored in further detail in the chapter on refugees and migrants in this document, and makes evident the need to provide integral analysis connecting pre-existing humanitarian situations, as well as reflecting an urgent need to guarantee the rights of victims and affected communities, making use of a differential focus for ethnicity, age and gender. One of the major challenges of the new administration3 is to take measures and implement effective strategies in the areas of prevention, protection and durable solutions by the State for vulnerable populations.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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