Archived page: may contain outdated information!
  • Send page
  • Print page

Colombia: the victims of armed conflict need protection and emergency aid

31-12-2005 Operational Update

Thousands of families displaced by fighting, a dramatic rise in the number of people killed or injured by anti-personnel mines, dozens of hostages – each with a family hoping for a solution to their ordeal, people living under restrictions on movement and a rise in the number of disappearances. These are the aspects of the armed conflict in Colombia that specially concerned the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2005.

©ICRC/B. Heger/co-e-00122 
  Hostages and others deprived of their freedom are a constant concern of the ICRC. The organization endeavours to keep them in touch with their families by means of Red Cross messages.    
  • 29% of the people that the ICRC assisted belong to an ethnic minority
  • 17% of families assisted are headed by a woman
  • 55% of people assisted are under 18

While the situation has improved in some parts of the country, fighting continues to affect thousands of people elsewhere. The ICRC is concerned about the fate of these people and is working to protect and assist them.


  • The ICRC provided food and non-food aid to more than 55,000 people in 2005. To improve the quality of life in areas affected by conflict, the ICRC completed 55 infrastructure construction or repair projects and started 24 new ones. The organization also facilitated medical and dental treatment for around 30,000 people through its health programmes. In addition, more than 8,000 people were vaccinated, most of them children. The ICRC subsidized medical treatment for 71 people injured by anti-personnel mines or unexploded ordnance. The organization also referred a significant number of people to state health services.
  • The ICRC documented more than 1,000 suspected violations of IHL. It registered 317 new disappearances, in addition to the 279 recorded in 2004. The ICRC also recorded 198 summary executions and helped 1,000 people under threat to move to safer areas.
  • The ICRC publicly expressed its concern regarding the fate of the hostages, pressed for a way to be found of securing their immediate release and offered its medical and logistics facilities to facilitate their return to their homes. The ICRC also reiterated its willingness to visit police and armed forces personnel held by armed groups, to assess their state of health, to transmit Red Cross messages between them and their families and to support the return of those liberated to their homes.
  • To assess conditions of detention, the ICRC monitored the cases of about 7,600 persons held in 338 places of detention in the course of 640 visits. The organization also helped around 2,000 people to visit members of their families in prison.
  • Under its “restoring family links” programme, the ICRC distributed 150 Red Cross messages from civilians and delivered 40 messages from people held in places of detention to their families.
  • The ICRC held about 200 sessions at which it promoted its humanitarian activities to the security forces and to organized armed groups. The organization held a number of workshops for the staff and students of various universities, with the aim of helping to develop strategies for aiding the victims of the armed conflict.
  • To promote reflection among journalists regarding the principal humanitarian problems affecting thousands of Colombians, the ICRC ran a course entitled Journalists, armed conflict and IHL.
  In 2006 the ICRC has provided the following:
  • 13 drinking water systems

  • 14 sewerage systems

  • 17 schools

  • 5 health centres (repairs/rebuilding)

  • 3 community centres
    The ICRC’s health and assistance programme aims at improving access to health services for the following groups:
  • residents of areas affected by the conflict who have limited access – or no access at all – to local health services (i.e. those living under movement restrictions).

  • people displaced by the fighting.

  • civilians and arms bearers injured by anti-personnel mines or unexploded ordnance.


  pdf file   Full text of the report on the ICRC's activities in Colombia during 2005 (in Spanish)    (950kb)  
  About Acrobat PDF files 

Related sections