ICRC calls to action for Colombia in 2021

Humanitarian challenges

14 March 2021
ICRC calls to action for Colombia in 2021
In 2020, we successfully recovered the remains of 16 missing people in conflict zones. Unfortunately, we have also suffered failed attempts, such as this one in Norte de Santander. Laura Aguilera Jiménez / ICRC

These are our calls to action in relation to the issues that most concern us in the country.

Tackling COVID-19

  • We urge the Colombian government to include marginalized and vulnerable people in the national vaccination programme, including people affected by
    armed conflict and violence, detainees, migrants and people with disabilities. These people should have the same right and access to the vaccine as others do.
  • It is critical that armed actors give people living in areas under their control access to the vaccine. All parties should also facilitate the work of health personnel and humanitarian organizations who are responsible for the vaccine.
  • We urge the prison authorities and the Ministry of Justice to continue to evaluate and implement measures that reduce the negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions on people deprived of their liberty. It is important to ensure that detainees have contact with their relatives.
  • The pandemic requires the authorities to comply with Colombia's existing recommendations and guidelines related to the dignified handling of the dead. Dead bodies should be appropriately registered, identified and buried without adversely affecting or altering the burial sites of unidentified bodies who may be missing persons.
  • We remind the national and local authorities that they should respect the decision of families regarding burial or cremation in accordance with their cultural
    or religious beliefs. 

Armed conflict

  • We call upon the public forces and all armed groups to respect civilians and protect them from the consequences of hostilities. We remind you of the strict obligation to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) and other humanitarian rules.
  • We urge the state to ensure that all victims of armed conflict and violence have access to state assistance, including psychosocial and economic support.
  • We urge all parties not to discriminate against victims, who should be treated with empathy and support, and this should include migrants.

Health services

  • We call upon the people of Colombia to respect and protect the crucial role played by health-care workers, particularly during this pandemic.
  • We reiterate this call to all armed actors and urge them to stop attacking health-care workers, facilities and vehicles. We remind you that acts of violence towards health-care workers constitute a violation of IHL.

Missing people

  • We remind all parties to the conflict that they should help determine the fate and whereabouts of missing people in order to provide answers to their families. Knowing that a missing person has died allows the family to organize a dignified funeral for their loved one and to grieve.
  • We urge the state and Colombian civil society to continue to support the Missing Persons Search Unit (UBPD) in carrying out its important work.
  • We remind the authorities that the urgent search mechanism is an important tool that should be activated immediately and appropriately when a person goes missing, based on the principle of good faith when someone makes a tracing request.

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