Our call to action for Colombia: 2020

Humanitarian challenges

01 April 2020
Our call to action for Colombia: 2020
Omaira Rivera has two of her children missing. In Colombia there are more than 80,000 cases because of the armed conflict. Laura Aguilera JIMENEZ/ICRC

Colombia lives a difficult reality in which thousands of people still live in the midst of armed conflict and violence.

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

To armed actors

  • We urge the Armed Forces and armed groups to comply with their obligation to know, respect and apply IHL and other humanitarian standards. Under no circumstances should civilians continue to suffer the consequences of armed actions. The complex situation in different regions of the country impels us again to remind all armed players that respecting limits in war is not optional.
  • We call on all armed actors to provide any information they might have concerning the fate of missing persons. Fulfilling this duty will help provide answers to tens of thousands of families who still do not know what happened to their loved ones.

To the authorities

  • It is vital that the new local and regional authorities focus their efforts on providing dignified, timely and comprehensive assistance to communities affected by conflict and armed violence in urban and rural areas.
  • We call on the State to strengthen its capacity to provide wide-ranging care, including psychosocial and economic support, to all victims. Survivors of sexual violence, recruitment, explosive devices, threats and disappearances, among others, must receive dignified and efficient assistance that is tailored to their needs and does not revictimize them.
  • We acknowledge the State's efforts to respond to the needs of migrants. However, implementation of the regulatory framework must be strengthened at regional and local levels.
  • We urge the authorities to continue providing support to the Missing Persons Search Unit, which relies on having the necessary resources and the cooperation of all State agencies in order to fulfill its mission.
  • The proper management of morgues, cemeteries and other burial sites is key in the search for missing persons and in preventing the loss of bodies. We urge the relevant institutions to recognize their responsibility in this task.
  • We remind the penitentiary authorities of the importance of unifying responsibility for detainees' health under a single lead entity with sufficient autonomy to make decisions regarding the physical and mental condition of inmates.

To Colombian society

  • Since most of the acts of aggression against medical staff and facilities in 2019 were carried out by members of the civilian population, we extend a call to everyone to protect and respect the activities of health workers. This is equally relevant for armed players.
  • It is vital that the private sector facilitate fair and dignified employment for the victims of the armed conflict and migrants.

To the international community

  • Urgent measures are needed to respond to the challenges of migration. The international community must step up its funding for humanitarian programmes aimed at meeting the needs of migrants (including refugees), as well as returning Colombians and receiving communities.

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