Photo: Juan Duque / ICRC Colombia

Come through the screen – see the reality of war in Colombia

The war in Colombia isn’t over, it’s simply changed: armed conflicts now dominate life here in the remotest regions of the country. Time and time again we see with our own eyes violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) – the body of law asserting that even wars have limits.
Article 10 November 2023 Colombia

No less than seven non-international armed conflicts are jeopardizing the survival of rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Colombia. In just the first half of 2023, we recorded the deaths of more than 100 people who had been killed by explosive devices – people like you and me who were simply walking home but found themselves in the path of a landmine, an explosive remnant of war, or some launched or detonated device. Their lives were cut short and those of their family members have been forever altered.

Even wars have limits: ICRC campaign in Colombia from ICRC on Vimeo.

Other people have survived, their bodies marked with the visible scars of war and weighed down by the psychological harm known only to those who have experienced the devastation of armed conflict.

People living in the areas most affected by the violence have seen their quality of life erode. Between January and June 2023, thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind. Uncertainty reigned in several departments as people moved around in search of safety. Nariño Department, for example, saw a sharp increase in the number of individuals and groups on the move. In other departments, such as Cauca, Bolívar, Sucre and Caquetá, people's fear of ending up as just-another-casualty-statistic drove many to simply leave their home region behind.

If it were you, what would you do, where would you go?

While some fled, others have stayed behind, barricaded in their homes, listening to the gunshots and rifle blasts skimming across the rooftops and nicking the walls, praying that none of the bullets will hit their sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, fathers, mothers or neighbours. They spend tense hours, days, and even weeks under their beds with mattresses over their heads. Most of the thousands of people trapped in their homes are in the Chocó Department, but the situation is much the same in the Valle del Cauca and Bolívar Departments.

Imagine you and your family, trapped at home with no way out, your neighbourhood a sort of prison.
In 13 of Colombia's departments, we have been recording new cases of people going missing. Their absence feels like silence, but it's a deafening silence, echoing like thunder in the hearts and memories of their family and friends for years – sometimes even decades.

#EvenWarsHaveLimits is a campaign by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Colombia whose goal is to give you a glimpse of what life is like for those who are, as you read this, suffering the devastating consequences of armed conflict and other violence.

Media contact information:

Laura Santamaría, ICRC, Bogota
Communication Manager
Phone: +57 311 4910789