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Protecting the health sector in Colombia: A step to make the conflict less cruel

31-12-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 844, by Victor De Currea-Lugo


Victor De Currea-Lugo,
MD, studied medicine at the National University of Colombia and holds a Master ’s degree from the University of Salamanca, Spain. He worked as an adviser to the Colombian Ministry of Health ’s Emergency and Disasters Programme, and subsequently coordinated the ICRC's Medical Duties Protection Programme in Colombia (1998-99). He is the author of Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Sector salud:el caso colombiano (Bogotá, 1999). 

The internal conflict in Colombia has already claimed many victims and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, especially its health care facilities. Acts of violence are a direct threat to the survival of medical personnel. As a result, health services can no longer meet the conflict victims’ needs for medical care. The very mission to provide medical care is thus in danger. This article recounts the findings of research into the causes and nature of attacks on medical personnel, and tells of the steps taken by the ICRC delegation there to increase the safety of its medical personnel in the field and promote greater respect for international humanitarian law in Colombia.  

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