A Call to Action in Colombia: Challenges in 2018

For the ICRC in Colombia, the challenges of implementing the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People's Army (FARC EP), the uncertainty of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), insecurity in some of the remotest areas of the country, the tragedy of missing people and the serious prison crisis are particularly concerning.

Humanitarian Challenges 2018, the ICRC in Colombia's annual report, addresses these challenges and looks at some of the most pressing issues following the signing of the Peace Agreement in November 2016. 

“It is time that the victims of all these years of conflict receive the attention that they deserve," said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. "If Colombia truly wants to overcome so many years of pain, it must ensure that it puts the victims at the centre of its public agenda,” he said.

For the ICRC, the search for missing people is the main humanitarian challenge that the country faces. In 2017, the organization helped 271 people to ascertain what had happened to their missing relatives. Of those, 133 re-established contact, while the remaining 138 were notified that their loved one had died. In addition, the remains of 19 people who had died in conflict zones were recovered and handed over to the authorities for identification.

The ICRC is also concerned about the failure to comply with humanitarian rules in Colombia. In 2017, the organization followed up on more than 550 cases of recent violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the areas of the country in which it works.

In 2017 alone, the ICRC carried out 14 emergency humanitarian operations in the country and 65,700 people benefited from its work, including initiatives on:

  • support for the search for missing people
  • emergency aid to displaced people
  • support for victims of sexual violence
  • education to reduce the risk of accidents with explosive devices

During almost 50 years of work in Colombia, the ICRC has witnessed the resilience of hundreds of thousands of Colombians who, even in the most painful of circumstances, have borne adversity with positivity.

“In a decisive year for the country, the ICRC remains determined to support the victims of conflict and armed violence. As a neutral and humanitarian organization, we stand ready to continue helping the Colombian people and alleviating the suffering caused by violence,” pledged Mr Harnisch.