The activities proposed hereafter are still subject to the adoption of the financing decision ECHO/WWD/ BUD/2012/01000
1 . CONTEXT
There has been a clear change in politics in Colombia since President Santos took power. Diplomatic ties with Ecuador and Venezuela were restored. In early May 2011, for the first time in Colombia, President Santos acknowledged the prevalence of an armed conflict in Colombia “since many years”. One month later the Victims Law, aimed to restore land and seeking compensation for those affected by the conflict, was endorsed.
Despite the widened political aims and economic growth, Colombia still faces the consequences of the armed conflict involving several illegal armed groups and the Colombian armed forces. No clear prospects for a negotiation with the main guerrilla groups (FARC-EP and ELN) are in sight, while at the same time there is also a growing number of criminal gangs countrywide (allegedly integrated by former paramilitaries). All those illegal armed groups are largely self-financed through drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, and illegal mining. While military advances of the Colombian armed forces have been undeniable during the past decade, the conflict continues to trigger serious humanitarian consequences for the civilian population. The main humanitarian consequences are forced displacement (Internally Displaced Persons –IDPs- and refugees) and temporary restriction of mobility, goods and services.
Intimidation, violence, fear of forced recruitment and threats are the main triggering factors behind forced displacement. In 2010 alone, between 125,000 according to the government and 280,000 according to local NGO, new people became internally displaced and similar figures may be expected for 2011. Accumulated IDP figures are amongst the highest in the world: 3.7 million according to the government, and 5.2 million according to local NGOs. During the first half of 2011, 193,409 Colombian citizens requested formal inclusion in the governmental IDP registration system; 48,142 were admitted by the end of June 2011. The rate of rejection has risen significantly in the past years, from 12% in 2002 to 45% in 2010. It is estimated that 20% of IDPs do not even apply for registration due to fear or just because they ignore the process.
Colombian civilians also continue seeking asylum in neighbouring countries, in particular in Ecuador and Venezuela. An average of almost 1,400 Colombians per month requested asylum in Ecuador during the first half of 2011. Venezuela registers less asylum requests (250 per month) mainly due to long delays to obtain response from the authorities.
Armed groups frequently impose restrictions on civilian populations to keep a tight control on territories or to avoid any possibility of exchange of information between civilians and potential enemy units. Restrictions on mobility, as well as on access to goods and services (health or education) for civilians living in rural zones, cause serious humanitarian consequences. Use of landmines often makes access to land and subsistence agriculture impossible, affecting livelihoods of civilian populations in rural zones.
Shrinking of humanitarian space through the blurring of civil-military lines (the government has established mixed brigades of military personnel and civilian health workers) has increased risks for humanitarian workers. Repeated violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committed by all parties to the conflict have been recorded.
Colombia suffered heavy floods in 2010 and in the first half of 2011 due to the La Niña phenomenon. More than 3.9 million people were affected. Despite a large-scale response in funding terms from the Government of Colombia, implementation of relief and rehabilitation has suffered delays due to complex administration of resources between central and local governments.