The long lasting conflict in Colombia continued to have a significant impact on the civilian population's vulnerabilities in 2005. While during the first 10 months of 2005, official government figures show a continuing reduction in the number of new IDPs (Internally displaced people) - down from 160,648 in 2004 to 106,250 - reliable independent figures show an increasing trend in new displacements: 252,801 had to leave their houses during the first 9 months of the year (which at the same rate would give a figure of 337,068 for the whole year). The total number of IDPs remains extremely high, as since 1985 over 3 million Colombians have been displaced from their homes, one of the highest figures in the world. There is also a growing concern over the less visible phenomenon of besieged or blockaded communities as part of the armed groups' conflict strategy. The conflict also continues to trigger movements of populations towards the neighbouring countries, in particular into Ecuador and Venezuela: over 250,000 Colombians qualified as "people of concern to UNHCR" are estimated to be living in Ecuador and 200,000 in Venezuela.
Some level of security in the major urban areas (with the exception of the poor marginalised suburbs) and major roads has been attained over the past years but the conflict continues in most rural areas - and has clearly intensified in the South - causing renewed needs.
The much heralded demobilisation of the paramilitary groups is ongoing, but so far - from a humanitarian point of view - has tended to create more insecurity, displacements and other violations. Violations by the armed groups include the recruitment of children with over 14,000 estimated to be involved, from age 12 upwards.
DG ECHO's strategy for 2006 builds on those of previous years, the principal objective being to provide the necessary protection, relief and assistance to people affected by the conflict - in Colombia and its neighbouring countries.
Assistance to affected populations living in rural areas will be a priority as state institutions are generally not present there due to lack of capacity or lack of will. However, in urban areas, to ensure respect of IDPs' rights, a minimum complementary assistance to the one ensured by the State will be supported while measures to improve the government response will also be supported. All activities will be developed with a protection focus to reinforce the fragile Colombian protective environment.
It is estimated that under the Global Plan at least 50,000 people will receive emergency assistance immediately after displacement caused by the conflict and 13,700 when the displacement is caused by natural disaster in conflict affected areas. About 35,000 affected people will see their living conditions improved, 3,000 children will benefit from adapted protection assistance. Also, around 37,000 refugees in Ecuador and Venezuela will benefit from DG ECHO's intervention. In total around 138,000 persons will be assisted.
The present Global Plan proposes humanitarian operations for a total amount of EUR 12 million. Each will have an average duration of 12 months within an 18 month decision implementation period.