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Colombia: ICRC assistance programme for internally displaced people

23-01-2003

In 2002, the ICRC assisted over 179,000 victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, most of them displaced, providing them with 515,000 food parcels.

The problem of internally displaced civilians is an important focus of humanitarian action in Colombia and an outstanding feature of the country's internal conflict.

In order to save their lives, many people have had to flee their homes, leaving most of their belongings behind, and travel long distances to reach safer parts of the country.

 ICRC assistance programme in Colombia  

The ICRC has been running an emergency assistance programme for civilian victims of the country's armed conflict since 1996. These people, including the displaced and those living in areas subject to restrictions imposed by the parties in conflict, have urgent needs in terms of food and other essential supplies, such as hygiene articles, kitchen utensils and mats.

The ICRC has focused its efforts on meeting these crucial needs during the emergency phase, namely, the three months immediately following displacement.

Since the ICRC maintains a regular presence in the areas hardest hit by the conflict, its delegates are immediately aware of any large population movemen ts and can thus provide effective and timely assistance. These emergency operations are usually carried out together with the Colombian Red Cross.

The ICRC supervises the entire assistance process from beginning to end – from the assessment of needs to the direct distribution of relief – in order to ensure that the supplies actually reach the people for whom they are intended.

The ICRC also coordinates its activities with those of other international and national relief organizations, such as the government-run Social Solidarity Network (RSS), to ensure that the population benefits from all available services.

Indeed, these organizations are complementary both in terms of the type of assistance they provide (food and other supplies, housing, education, etc.) and the timing of their relief efforts (during the emergency, transitional or rehabilitation phase).