OCHA Operations Director in Colombia: Great progress but challenges remain

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 22 Aug 2013

(Bogota/New York, 22 August 2013): Returning to New York after a two-day joint visit with international NGO representatives to Colombia, OCHA Operations Director John Ging said that while the humanitarian situation had improved greatly, there was still more to be done.

“Colombia has made huge progress in recent years, but many challenges remain,” said Mr. Ging. “We as the international community must support the people of Colombia as they strive to recover from decades of conflict.”

During his visit, Mr.Ging travelled to Guapi town and the remote village of Limones in Cauca Department on the Pacific Coast to see first-hand the situation of people displaced by violence and their host communities. In Guapi, families who fled fighting in nearby villages are living in desperate conditions, while the 800 residents of Limones have been displaced two years in succession by clashes between Government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“People in places like Guapi and Limones have suffered too much for far too long,” said Mr.Ging. “While there has been recent progress in the peace talks, there are still hundreds of thousands of people waiting for the most basic improvements in healthcare, sanitation, food security, education and livelihoods.”Mr.Ging met with local authorities and organisations assisting people in Guapi and Limones and with national authorities in Bogota.

“I was deeply impressed by the capacity and commitment of both the local and national authorities I met in Colombia,” said Mr.Ging. “The remarkable progress achieved and the strength of partnership with the international humanitarian organisations gives us confidence that the challenges ahead will be successfully overcome. While economic development is the solution for Colombia, international humanitarian organisations are playing an indispensable stabilising role, creating the conditions necessary for development and the restoration of dignity and hope for those who have been impoverished and insecure for decades.”

Mr.Ging noted that the resources needed by the international community to support the national humanitarian response are modest in global terms (a total of $119 million in 2013), but are having a very positive impact at a critically important time. “We can not take progress for granted when so many people still live in such appalling conditions,” he said. “The Government has the commitment to solve the remaining challenges and the international community must be equally resolved to stay the course.”

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