2017 IN REVIEW
After several years of improvements, particularly during the last two years of the peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC-EP, 2017 confirms a deterioration of several humanitarian indicators that began in mid-2016. Despite expectations about relief for civilian population, according to OCHA monitoring with UMAIC support, there is an increase in trends in different categories of armed violence compared to 2016 and even earlier years. The departments with the greatest impact were concentrated in the Pacific region and the border with Venezuela. Likewise, there are important records in other areas, such as the Northwest, the center of the country and the border with Ecuador.
In addition to these multiple emergencies triggered by both the conflict and natural disaster events, even the increased migratory flow of Venezuelan citizens to Colombia, exacerbated the living conditions and risks in protecting vulnerable communities which survive amid unmet basic needs and with the weak presence of the State in many territories.
The departments with the greatest impact are on the Pacific Coast (Nariño, Chocó) and on the border with Venezuela (Norte de Santander); similarly, there are important records in Northwest (Córdoba and Antioquia). There are departments like Córdoba, Risaralda, Putumayo and Arauca that do not register this type of events for a long time, which shows changes in the dynamics of the context.
Attacks against the civilian population also increased by 26 percent; of this subcategory are homicides and intentional injuries in protected person with an alarming increase of 196 percent, also kidnappings and forced recruitment of children and adolescents (+ 49%); It should be noted that throughout the year there was a dynamic of displacement associated with these attacks (threats and homicides) against community and social leaders, which often causes a rupture of the social fabric in the communities due to the impact it leaves. The armed actions (+ 31%) together with the events of access restrictions (+ 48%) registered an increase compared to the immediately previous year.
In terms of natural disasters, according to data from the National Unit for Risk and Disaster Management (UNGRD), in 2017 a total of 603,302 people was affected. It is worth highlighting the effects of floods (79%) during 2017, mainly concentrated in the northwestern region (Córdoba,
Antioquia), the Caribbean (Bolívar, Magdalena) and pacific (Chocó and Cauca), generated by the intensity of the rains, configuring often double affect due to the coincidence of areas with a strong humanitarian impact due to the conflict and generalized violence
The deadliest event was the emergency in Mocoa (Putumayo), which left at least 332 dead and 22,667 affected.
The Local Coordination Team (ELC) of Putumayo and the Humanitarian Country Team (EHP) articulated with the government a complementary response.
The outlook for 2018 is not encouraging. One year after the Peace Agreement between the Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and despite the commitment of the parties, its implementation is progressing slowly and many affected communities in different regions of the country have not yet seen tangible changes in their lives. However, there is growing concern about the greater impact on the civilian population due to armed actions. This is due to a reconfiguration and expansion of the traditional and new armed groups (ELN, EPL, FARC dissidents, former demobilized combatants) that occupy the territories left by the FARC. A scenario of generalized violence fueled by interests in illegal economies (mining and illicit crops) has allows territorial and social control. The negotiations with the ELN are still uncertain.
The current economic and political crisis in Venezuela has also strongly impacted Colombia in 2017, particularly in the last quarter. A monthly average of 100,000 Venezuelans remained in Colombia in the last semester, which is equivalent to 3,300 Venezuelans per day who do not return to Venezuela. Although the official figure accounts for 600,000 Venezuelans in the country as of December 2017, it is estimated that the figure could be much higher as people in search of food, medicine and work continue to migrate through any of the 7 officials monitored points or any of the 234 informal paths along the 2,200 kilometers of border with Venezuela.
This whole picture reflects the increase in humanitarian needs. By 2018, humanitarian partners identified more than 4.9 million people in need in 234 municipalities of the country, 50 more than in 2016 (Humanitarian Needs Overview - HNO), On the other hand, the financial requirements of the (Humanitarian Response Plan) (HRP) increased by US$ 40 million and reached $156.5 M.
The peace accord is a historic opportunity for many victims of the conflict. In this sense, 2018 represents a challenge for the central government to guarantee the continuity of rapid implementation with strategic actions, given the fragility of existing factors. In the midst of the polarization in the country, electoral periods, other intermittent peace dialogues with the ELN and the presence of different and new armed groups, human rights and international humanitarian law violations persist.
The presence of the international humanitarian community must be part of the efforts to build peace and sustainable development by implementing the new-way-of-work model3 . In such a sensitive transition period, it is essential to guarantee assistance to people who continue to have humanitarian needs due to different victimizing events, given the widespread violence and natural disasters, in coordination with the different international and national actors, in order to yield the expected result.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.