Bogotá (ICRC) – The vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Gilles Carbonnier, reaffirmed the organization's commitment to the people and communities of Colombia affected by armed conflict and violence during a visit on 17 April, his first official trip to the country since becoming vice-president.
Mr Carbonnier travelled first to the department of Norte de Santander to see the humanitarian situation there for himself and to experience first-hand how the ICRC is working to help victims of conflict and violence in the region.
He was then scheduled to meet with Claudia Blum, the foreign affairs minister, Diego Molano, the minister for defence, and Miguel Ceballos, Colombia's high commissioner for peace, to discuss a range of humanitarian issues on 22 and 23 April.
"In Colombia, the devastating consequences of armed conflict and violence continue to have a direct impact on civilians, causing suffering and uncertainty. A few days ago, I visited Norte de Santander, which is one of the worst-affected departments, and I was able to assess humanitarian priorities there and in other parts of Colombia," said Mr Carbonnier.
"It is imperative that the effort to protect victims continues, and that we strengthen our programmes to help people survive the challenges of such a complex situation. I reaffirm our commitment to people affected by armed conflict and violence and, once again, I urge all armed groups to respect civilians and protect them from the effects of hostilities," he stressed.
During his visit, the vice-president also met with Judith Carvajal, president of the Colombian Red Cross. He praised the work carried out by the National Society's staff and volunteers. They also discussed the contribution of the wider International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to the country's humanitarian response and the inherent challenges of this work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before visiting Colombia, Mr Carbonnier also paid a visit to El Salvador and Honduras to assess people's needs and to strengthen cooperation with both countries in promoting humanitarian action.
Mr Carbonnier was accompanied throughout his trip by Ms Sophie Orr, the ICRC's director of operations for the Americas, and Ms Suba Umathevan, a member of the ICRC's Assembly. Together, they met communities supported by the ICRC and with local and national authorities. Mr Carbonnier concludes his visit on 23 April, when he is scheduled to return to Geneva, Switzerland.
The ICRC has been providing humanitarian assistance in Colombia for more than 50 years and currently has more than 400 staff in the country. The organization continues to work to alleviate the suffering of people affected by armed conflict and violence.
For further information, please contact:
Lorena Hoyos, ICRC, Bogotá
Public Relations Officer
tel: +57 3102218133
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