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World Humanitarian Summit - Regional Consultation Latin America and Caribbean, Meeting the needs of people in conflict

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This reference document provides a general framework to stimulate discussion in preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit at the regional consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean taking place in Guatemala City, May 5-7, 2015. The consultation will provide perspectives and recommendations for different stakeholders on attending to the needs of people in conflict, using the case in Colombia as a reference point.

The conflict in Colombia and its humanitarian consequences

Colombia faces ongoing humanitarian needs as a result of the impact of conflict and armed violence along with natural disasters in certain areas. While the armed conflict continues between the government and the FARC-EP guerilla forces as well as with the post-demobilization armed groups (GAPD), significant humanitarian and protection challenges are posed.

According to official data, between 1985 and 2015, the armed conflict has caused the displacement of more than 6 million people, which equals 14% of the country’s population.1 Furthermore, in the same period, more than 150,000 people have been direct or indirect victims of forced disappearance, 38,000 people have been kidnapped and 12,000 have been victims of anti-personnel mines.2

Since November 2012, the Colombian government has pursued peace conversations with the FARC-EP, one of the principle actors in the conflict. This process is a historical opportunity to put an end to a source of violence and humanitarian crisis in the country.
However, even if an agreement is reached with this group, other violent groups are likely to continue to operate, such as the ELN, the EPL and the GAPD.

In the first two years of the peace negotiations, according to official figures, at least 427,795 people were displaced, meaning that almost 16,454 Colombians were forced into displacement each month. In the same period, 713 victims of anti-personnel mines were recorded, the equivalent of 27 new victims of these devices each month. Likewise, during the peace negotiations, reports continue to be made of the use and recruitment of children, sexual violence, kidnappings, extortion and homicides which affect the normal life of entire communities and create humanitarian and protection needs.3 Despite the hope placed in the peace process and improvements in certain indicators, the conflict and violence continue, disproportionately affecting indigenous and afro-Colombian communities as well as women, children and adolescents.