Colombia: The civilian population is still suffering the consequences of the armed conflict

The 40 years of armed conflict is still taking its toll on the civilian population in Colombia. In April and May of 2007, the International Red Cross Committee delegation provided 106 tonnes of food and other basic necessities to meet the most pressing needs of over 6,000 people forced to flee their homes by the armed conflict.

Tame, department of Arauca

Dozens of families from the rural part of the municipality of Tame, in the department of Arauca, moved to the towns of Tame, Fortul and Betoyes in search of safety.

Twenty-three of the 142 displaced families belong to the Guaívos Makagua indigenous community.

After conducting a survey to assess the most pressing needs, ICRC delegates distributed food and non-food aid.

"There is widespread panic among the people," said one of the displaced people. "There is great uncertainty in the community, because it is impossible to return. We are afraid to go out on the street. We intend to return, but not until the situation improves. What little we have is there".

El Charco, department of Nariño

Just over a month ago, hundreds of families living in the villages along the river Tapaje, which runs through the municipality of El Charco, were forced to flee in search of a safer place to live.

Many families went to the municipality's main town, while others sought refuge in Guapi, in the department of Cauca, or in Buenaventura and Santiago de Cali, in the department of Valle del Cuaca.

By leaving their land and their work, these people have lost their livelihood. They now face overcrowded living conditions, a lack of water, fear and the trauma of being uprooted from their homes.

Over the past several weeks, the ICRC delegates in the area have focused efforts on providing an effective and timely response to the most pressing needs of these families.

Vásquez and Urrao, department of Antioquia

Armed clashes occurring over the past few weeks in the rural area of Urrao, in the department of Antioquia, forced over 900 people from seven villages in the area to move to the village of Vásquez, where they sought shelter in the homes of friends and family, the school and the health centre.

The arrival of these people has led to a lack of food in Urrao, which is a two-day mule ride from the nearest village.

After evaluating needs, the ICRC distributed food and non-food relief supplies.

The delivery of humanitarian aid was made possible by the cooperation of the flying medical service of Antioquia, which provided a helicopter to be used to transport the food, and the Medellín branch of the Colombian Red Cross Society, which sent two volunteers to coordinate distribution.

On 4 May, the ICRC will carry out another needs assessment to determine whether it will be necessary to provide more aid.

The ICRC, as part of its exclusively humanitarian mission to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict, will continue to monitor the situation to establish whether further assistance operations are required, according to its established criteria and the assessments it carries out.

Tame, Arauca, 8 May

- Thirteen tonnes of food and other supplies were delivered to 142 families (555 people, including 308 children).

El Charco, Nariño

- Forty-five tonnes of food supplies and other basic necessities were delivered to 470 families (2,050 people) at the beginning of April;

- On 2 May, 596 families (2,245 people) received 40.5 tonnes of food supplies and other basic necessities;

- On 3 May, 79 families (297 people), who had remained in El Charco, received 5.2 tonnes of food supplies and other basic necessities.

Santiago de Cai

- Nine families (40 people) received food and non-food supplies at the ICRC subdelegation in Santiago de Cali.

Urrao, Antioquia, 26 and 27 April

- Around three tonnes of food supplies and other basic necessities were delivered to 273 families (984 people, including 300 children).