Colombia + 1 more

Donor Update on UNHCR COVID-19 Response in Colombia - #16 (1 - 15 November 2020)

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Situation Report
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Current Context

The Colombian Ministry of Health confirmed 1,308,376 cases of COVID-19 as of 29 November, with Bogotá concentrating the highest number (374,077 confirmed cases). A total of 36,584 individuals have died from COVID-19 and 1,204,452 cases have recovered.

According to Migración Colombia, 119,885 Venezuelans have returned to Venezuela from or through Colombia since the 14 March border closure (as of 16 November).

UNHCR and partners are monitoring the flux of caminantes (people transiting on foot) entering Colombia via informal crossing points and heading towards cities inside the country or third countries. According to this monitoring, an average of 80-100 Venezuelans enter daily in Arauca and 300 per day in Cúcuta.

On the Ecuadorian border, an average of 15 people per day are taking informal crossings to enter or leave Colombia. The capacity to provide assistance for and monitor this population in transit on the southern border is limited due to presence of illegal armed actors and limited access.

In addition, during the reporting period, 1,681 individuals returning to Venezuela were registered at the Transitory Health Attention Centre (CAST in Spanish), of which 1,360 received information and orientation from UNHCR.

The eviction of 30 family groups occupying an informal settlement near Cali’s bus terminal scheduled for 30 October was suspended following the intervention of GIFMM Valle de Cauca with local authorities. The Secretary of Social Welfare in Cali is now designing a response route for the Venezuelan families.

According to external sources, between November 1 and 15, seven massacres have been registered in the municipalities of Nechí, Támesis and Betania (Antioquia), Argelia (Cauca, with two events), Tierralta (Córdoba) and Soledad (Atlántico). Persistent violence due to territorial disputes by illegal armed actors in the Bajo Cauca region, southern Córdoba, southwestern Antioquia and in the municipality of Argelia in Valle del Cauca are of great concern, and some have caused recent displacements.

Emergencies due to large-group displacements and confinements are also reported in the municipalities of Bajo Baudó, Litoral de San Juan (Chocó), López de Micay (Cauca) and Olaya Herrera (Nariño), mainly due to confrontations between illegal armed actors, homicides and threats to social leaders. In Bajo Baudó 72 families (322 people) were displaced from the communities of Buchadó,
Villanueva and la Loma. The confinement of approximately 600 families (3,000 persons) from 14 communities in the Purricha River was also reported. In Docordó, capital of the Municipality of Litoral de San Juan, 99 families (276 persons) were displaced; 11 communities of approximately 590 families (2,200 persons) are confined. In López de Micay, 18 families (40 persons) of the El Playón Community Council were displaced, while 120 families (290 persons) are confined. Finally, in Olaya Herrera, 223 families (543 people) were displaced from the villages of Vuelta Larga and Boca de Prieta. Recurring emergencies in the latter municipality are a concern, since several villages have been displaced up to three times during 2020.

UNHCR has worked with the Victim’s Unit (UARIV) to register and attend to displacements and confinements, as well as promoting an institutional response through the Subcommittee on Prevention,
Protection and Guarantees of Non-Repetition jointly with the Ministry of the Interior, the Ombudsman's Office and the Inspector General. In addition, UNHCR takes part in meetings aimed at identifying and following up on emergencies resulting from large-group displacements and confinements and to highlight gaps in the registration of events.

An illegal armed group entered Sabaletas, Limones, Guaimia and San Marcos villages near Buenaventura by boat, killing one person, wounding one and leaving behind a threatening pamphlet.

There are reports in Putumayo of increased protests by illicit armed groups against actions of the AntiNarcotics police such as fumigation and other methods of eradicating illicit crops, especially around the border region of San Miguel. There are also reports of youths (15-25 years old) being forcibly recruited in the coca production cycle.

From 15 October to 3 November, 10,139 applications for the new PEP VI have been registered, (this latest round of the Special Stay Permit PEP allows Venezuelans who have entered Colombia prior to 31 August 2020 to regularize their status and access basic rights). Additionally, as of 3 November, 127,884 out of 281,770 PEP RAMV have been renewed as of 30 October. 6,923 PEPFF permits (PEP for labour purposes) have been issued since the introduction of the PEPFF in early 2020, including more than 5,000 which were processed virtually.

UNHCR has been assisting Venezuelan refugees and migrants via its 59 telephone lines in 26 departments orienting people through the process of accessing and renewing their PEP as well as identifying prioritized cases that would require legal assistance and referring those cases to partners.

UNHCR will also support the regional office of Migración Colombia in Putumayo in the establishment of a Facilitation Centre where Venezuelan refugees and migrants can renew their documentation in a safe environment and avoid travelling to the neighbouring department Nariño.