Prevention and community training in Medellín
Armed fighting among street gangs known as “combos”, invisible borders which restrict movement to just a few blocks and hamper everyday activities such as going to class or work, threats against health personnel which limit people’s access to health services and stray bullets that kill and maim dozens of people each year; these are just some of the consequences of the armed violence suffered by residents of various districts in Medellín.
In order to reduce risks and the exposure of communities to such situations, the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross Antioquia branch carried out prevention activities to teach people how to stay safe in the urban environment and first aid, as part of the “More humanitarian spaces, more alternatives” project.
Learning about safe behaviour provides communities with the ability to put in place basic self-protection measures to reduce their exposure to the effects of armed violence. The first-aid training provides communities with the capacity to act effectively if someone is injured.
The Administrative Department for Disaster Risk Management (DAGRD) has also become involved in these workshops, providing training to strengthen the capacities of these communities.
Under this scheme, workshops have been held in neighbourhoods in districts 1 and 8, which are two of the project’s priority target areas. Fifty neighbourhood emergency committees in these areas received training.
Giovanni, a resident of district 1, was one of the participants. Two years before, he had been shot when he had unwittingly crossed an invisible border. “How many lives could have been saved if we had known then what you have taught us and how much suffering, including my own and that of my family, could have been avoided,” he remarked.