The bilateral ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP guerrillas, and the signing of a peace accord have both had a positive impact on the humanitarian situation in Colombia. The peace accord brings the opportunity to de-mine the world´s second most mine affected country, and opens the way for reparations of the 8,320,874 conflict victims registered in the Victims Unit (January 2017).
During the armed conflict, a large number of minors became part of non-State armed groups. As of January 2016, nearly six thousand minors have been recovered according to the Colombian Family Welfare Agency. Within the framework of the peace dialogues in 2016, the negotiating parties agreed to release all children under 15 of age from FARC camps and committed to prepare a road map for the release of all other children under 18, and develop a special comprehensive program for their care. In 2017, IOM will continue to enhance the capacity of the Colombian government to respond to the challenges of the Peace Accords´ implementation and post-conflict processes.
Colombia has also faced a challenging situation along the Venezuelan border. From August to September 2015, thousands of Colombians returned from Venezuela in light of the unilateral closing of the border by Venezuela. According to the Colombian migration authority, more than 2 million border crossings took place during the first month (13 August – 13 September 2016) after the border was reopened a year later, primarily to purchase medicine and basic consumer goods in Colombia due to shortages in Venezuela. The UN Humanitarian Country Team has expressed concerns about the vulnerability of populations along the border, particularly among women, children and adolescents at risk of abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation. IOM will provide emergency shelter along the border.
In the last couple of years, there has been an epidemic of hunger and starvation affecting mainly the children of the indigenous Wayúu people living in remote areas of the Guajira Department, as they have been cut off from the sole source of water in the region, the Ranchería River. Reports on this situation have been filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), showing that in the last eight years more than 4,770 children of this indigenous community have died due to malnourishment and a lack of drinking water. IOM will support the community with the provision of health care and psychosocial assistance.
Colombia is also vulnerable to natural disasters. According to information provided by the Government’s Disaster Response Unit, 556,728 people suffered from floods, droughts, windstorms, landslides and earthquakes between January and August 2016. IOM will support the Colombian government through preparedness and emergency response.
As of January 2017, it is estimated that close to 4.9 million individuals in Colombia are in need of humanitarian assistance.
IOM leads the CCCM cluster and co-leads the early reintegration cluster. IOM also coordinates very closely with OCHA in their inter-cluster role for humanitarian action in the country and participates actively in the UN Country Team meetings as well as the Humanitarian Country Team strategy. Field offices organize monthly meetings to review IASC subject issues and gather international partners working at local level in order to coordinate comprehensive actions with local institutions. IOM local staff also participates in the meetings. IOM works in close coordination with the Colombian Government (the Ministry of Health, Victims Unit, Colombian Reintegration Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Colombian Family Welfare Institute), UN agencies (including UNHCR, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, OCHA, and UNFPA), and other partners.
Overall Targeted Beneficiaries: 26,540 beneficiaries
Contact Information: Mr. Alejandro Guidi, Chief of Mission, Aguidi@iom.int, (571) 6397777 Ext. 1201. Valerie Dourdin, Emergency Coordinator, email@example.com, (571) 6397777 Ext. 1320.
IOM Offices: Country Office: Bogotá; Sub-Offices (11): Cartagena (Bolívar); Quibdó (Chocó), Medellín, Apartadó and San Andres de Cuequia (Antioquia); Pasto (Nariño); Riohacha (Guajira); Popayán and Santander de Quilichao (Cauca); Monteria (Córdoba) and Florencia (Caquetá). IOM also has 7 liaison offices in: Yopal (Casanare); Villavicencio (Meta); Tumaco (Nariño); Ibagué (Tolima); Soacha (Cundinamarca); and Cali and Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca).
International Staff: 6
National Staff: 269
- Protection Cluster
IOM has been improving educational infrastructure in border areas with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education as part of the GoC Programs Plan Fronteras para la Prosperidad and Más y Mejores Espacios Escolares respectively to prevent recruitment of children by illegal armed groups, benefiting more than 20,000 children and adolescents.
- Health Cluster
In the framework of the victims institutional strengthening program, IOM supported the GoC to provide psychosocial services to 4,228 victims of the armed conflict. Likewise, the cooperation agreement between IOM and the Ministry of Health allowed for the training of around 1,600 vulnerable community leaders in mental health issues, with a psychosocial approach.
- Emergency shelter
IOM Colombia implemented a pilot Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) program between October and December 2016, with the aim of identifying human mobility patterns across the Venezuela-Colombia border in the departments of Norte de Santander and Arauca. Four public servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were trained in DTM and 91 Colombian Armed Force soldiers were trained in CCCM activities in three municipalities.
- Early Recovery Cluster
In 2016, IOM implemented the IDF project: “Design comprehensive response actions to disorderly migration in border areas of the department of La Guajira”, which supported 123 returning citizens comprehensive return assistance in La Guajira Department, including health, education, legal advising, and job training.
- Inter-sectoral Activities
IOM Colombia and IOM Venezuela implemented in 2016 the Emergency Assistance Program for Persons in Search of International Protection across the Colombian Borders in Venezuela (Phase XI), which sought to target Colombian refugees in Venezuela through the provision of shelter, non-food items, health services provision, protection, legal assistance, and integration within host communities. 5,227 Colombian refugees seeking international protection in Venezuela we assisted.