Colombia: 230,000 people receive aid while awaiting peace

11 March 2015

Geneva / Bogotá (ICRC) – Colombians are still suffering the consequences of the conflict and other major violence on a daily basis. That was the message from the ICRC's delegation in Colombia during a presentation of its 2014 report on humanitarian activities in the country. Last year, the ICRC recorded 875 suspected breaches of international humanitarian law and other attacks on the civilian population. Armed violence remained a pressing issue in urban areas in 2014, most notably in Buenaventura, Tumaco and Medellín.

"Threats, disappearances, sexual violence and mines and unexploded ordnance continue to take their toll on civilians," said Christoph Harnisch, head of the delegation in Colombia. "We remain committed to helping those enduring armed conflict and other violence in Colombia. We will continue to help them to improve their situation and move on from the violence."

The ICRC pointed out that international humanitarian law would remain in force even after any eventual peace agreement. It would still govern the obligation of the parties to the conflict to provide information on both missing people and the conditions of people held in connection with the conflict, such as contact with their families and access to health care. Certain humanitarian issues will remain after a peace agreement is signed, such as dealing with unexploded ordnance and tracing missing people.

The ICRC helped over 230,000 people in areas affected by conflict and violence in 2014. Among them, 13,000 displaced people received food, essential household items and hygiene kits; and 19,000 people benefited from 32 livelihood programmes. The ICRC moved 655 people whose lives were in danger to safer locations. It also helped 220 families to look for their missing loved ones.

In 2014, delegates visited 81,000 people deprived of their liberty, amounting to 72% of all detainees in the country. During these visits, the delegates assessed detainees' living conditions and made recommendations to the authorities to improve them.

"It is important that the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC brings about real improvements for the people of Colombia," said Mr Harnisch. "We hope that our humanitarian work will continue to support the peace process, and we thank the parties to the conflict for the trust they have placed in the ICRC."

The ICRC has been working in Colombia for over 40 years to alleviate the suffering of civilians affected by the conflict and violence.

You can download the report in full (in Spanish only, English to follow) and accompanying videos here

For further information, please contact:
Patricia Rey, ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 07 89, @PReyCICR
Sandra Milena Rodríguez, ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 07 75
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 218 76 10, @AHeebICRC