Colombia

PRM in the Region

Since 2000, PRM has provided assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in Colombia and neighboring countries. PRM’s assistance strategy in Colombia includes ensuring adequate protection for vulnerable IDPs, filling gaps in the provision of emergency humanitarian assistance, and building local government and community capacity to meet the needs of IDPs. In Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama and Costa Rica, PRM programs provide direct emergency humanitarian assistance such as food, non-food, shelter, health, and psychosocial support to IDPs, refugees, and other vulnerable populations, including indigenous persons, Afro-Colombians, women, and children. PRM programs also support capacity-building activities with local governments, IDP and refugee associations, and civil society to improve the quality of assistance and services for IDPs and refugees. For instance, in Caucasia, a town in the northern part of the state of Antioquia, a PRM partner works with the local government to decrease the wait time for IDP registration, to provide humanitarian assistance to recently displaced persons, and to improve the government’s planning for and response to displacement.

Challenges for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Region

Decades of fighting between the government of Colombia and illegal armed groups forced millions of civilians to flee their homes. According to the Government of Colombia, the conflict resulted in over 6.9 million internally displaced persons since 1985. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that approximately 340,000 Colombians fled to neighboring countries to seek international protection.

Ecuador

133,118 persons of concern to UNHCR

Venezuela

173,989 persons of concern to UNHCR

Costa Rica

8,705 persons of concern to UNHCR

Panama

20,258 persons of concern to UNHCR

Source: UNHCR, December 2015

Displacement Trends

The Colombian government has made great efforts to improve its response to forced displacement, implement the Victims and Land Restitution Law, end widespread insecurity and engage in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Despite these efforts, in 2015 over 113,000 people were newly displaced because of violence. While the overall number of displacements in 2015 is similar to past years, there was a 27 per cent drop in the number of IDPs in mass events (internal forced displacement affecting more than 50 people in a single event) during the peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC. Unilateral ceasefires by the FARC also contributed to drops in mass displacement. Illegal armed groups, narco-trafficking networks, and a multitude of new criminal gangs continue to destabilize the situation, however, causing new displacements each month. The majority of these events take place in rural areas, slums and shantytowns, with large and medium-sized cities receiving the bulk of the displaced population. In these urban areas, sporadic bomb attacks, threats, extortion, killings, GBV, abductions and other forms of harassment and intimidation trigger further displacement.

Reasons for Displacement and Durable Solutions

Violence and threats against civilian populations continue to be a leading cause of displacement in Colombia. Other major factors driving displacement include competition among guerrilla groups, emerging criminal bands, and narco-traffickers attempting to establish control over territory, resources, and trafficking routes, as well as confrontations between illegal armed groups and the Colombian government. According to UNHCR, more than half of the displaced are women, and one third are Afro-Colombians and indigenous populations. Many IDPs occupy land they do not own on the margins of cities and have very limited access to municipal services like roads, electricity, water, schools, and health clinics. In 2012, the Victims and Land Restitution Law (‘Victims Law’) established a legal framework for comprehensive assistance, reparation, and land restitution to Colombia’s IDPs and other victims of the conflict.

PRM Programming to international organizations and NGOs for protection and assistance to Colombian IDPs and refugees in the region in FY 2015:

In FY 2016, PRM provided more than $40.9 million for Colombians displaced in Colombia and across the region. This total includes $13.7 million to UNHCR, approximately $7.8 million to ICRC, and more than $19.4 million for NGO partners.

In Colombia, PRM provides funding for programs implemented by Global Communities, International Relief and Development (IRD), Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Mercy Corps (MC). PRM also funds Asylum Access, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and International Organization for Migration (IOM), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Refugee Education Trust (RET) to support humanitarian activities in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela.

PRM’s Refugee Coordinator

Our Refugee Coordinator is based in Bogotá, Colombia and covers Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, with greater regional responsibilities as needed.