Humanitarian action in Colombia

17-07-2013 Report

In Colombia, 2012 saw the continuance of an armed conflict that began almost half a century ago, while other forms of violence intensified. The year was also marked by hopes for a resolution of the conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP), with peace talks beginning in Cuba.

Activity report 2012: introduction


2012 – The changing face of violence but same pain for victims



In 2012 the ICRC documented 880 alleged violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, as well as transgressions of the basic rules that require armed actors to spare and protect various categories of people. These violations – which included deaths, threats, disappearance, displacement, sexual violence, and attacks on patients, health-care workers and facilities – affected civilians in remote rural areas and big cities alike.

In 2012 the ICRC observed a deterioration in civilians' living conditions because of intensifying hostilities in the departments of Cauca, Norte de Santander, Caquetá, Arauca, Putumayo and Nariño. In addition to the toll taken by the armed conflict, people also had to deal with with the consequences of the emergence of new organized armed groups and parties engaged in armed violence in cities such as Medellín, Buenaventura and Tumaco.

 Meanwhile, the "other Colombia" – evoked in our 2011 report – is still just as remote and overlooked, and badly in need of humanitarian aid. On top of the direct impact of the violence, these communities also suffer the indirect consequences – cut off from basic services such as education, health care, transport and drinking water.

The ICRC applauds the progress made by the authorities in recognizing and making reparation to many victims. However, it is concerned about the considerable numbers of victims who are not entitled to claim State aid. This is particularly the case of victims of violence other than the armed conflict.


The ICRC's humanitarian response


In 2012 the ICRC assisted and protected victims in need of immediate relief in the aftermath of armed violence. More than 200,000 people benefited directly from ICRC aid. This included distributing food and hygiene and household items to displaced families, paying for threatened people to relocate, covering funeral costs when families did not have the means to do so, paying for medicines and treatment, taking the wounded and sick from conflict zones to be treated, and delivering materials to rebuild infrastructure.

Through the confidential dialogue it maintains with the parties to the conflict and other armed actors, the ICRC helped protect people by approaching alleged perpetrators to discuss reports of violations and persuading them to comply with humanitarian rules.

All these activities were carried out jointly with the Colombian Red Cross – the ICRC's partner in the country.
In 2013 – its 150th anniversary year – the ICRC will pursue its humanitarian work in parts of Colombia worst affected by conflict and other violence, coming to the aid of victims and trying to meet their most pressing needs.