Colombia: Insidious violence on the rise in 2015

Bogotá (ICRC) – Although the fighting is abating between government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP), the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) is continuing to register the same levels of violence in the country as in previous years. In a report released today about the humanitarian challenges facing Colombia in 2016, the ICRC underlined the high incidence of death threats, disappearances and sexual violence in 2015.

"This shows us just how complex the situation is in Colombia right now," said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. "The country is waiting for the conflict to end but the progress in Havana is not yet making a difference to the lives of most Colombians. They still face violence in various forms and need humanitarian relief."

In 2015 the ICRC documented 812 alleged violations of international humanitarian law and other attacks – both linked to and separate from the armed conflict – which claimed 19,000 victims. For the most part, the perpetrators of this insidious violence attacked an individual or small group of people, so as to keep a low profile. Half of the acts targeted women and children.

When presenting its report, the ICRC highlighted four challenges for Colombia in 2016: searching for 79,000 missing persons; dealing with anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices; addressing violence not linked to the conflict; and improving prison conditions.

"These challenges concern all of us," added Mr Harnisch. "The ICRC will continue working to find solutions and supporting the implementation of humanitarian agreements reached by the parties to the conflict. We stand ready to act as a neutral intermediary in any talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which have yet to begin formally."

Over 275,000 people were helped by the ICRC's work in Colombia in 2015. Many activities were carried out jointly with the Colombian Red Cross, which marked its 100th anniversary last year.

For further information, please contact:
Édgar Alfonso, ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 07 89
Elodie Schindler, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 51