Colombia: Insidious Violence on the Rise in 2015

The urban artist, Guache, painted a mural in Buenaventura to remember the missing. The ICRC carried out the campaign "The right to know" to ask for solidarity with the families of missing persons. ©Juan Sebastián Uribe


The urban artist, Guache, painted a mural in Buenaventura to remember the missing. The ICRC carried out the campaign "The right to know" to ask for solidarity with the families of missing persons. ©Juan Sebastián Uribe

Earlier today, the ICRC Delegation in Bogotá, Colombia launched its annual report, or Humanitarian Situation Report 2016, giving an overview on ICRC activities in the country in 2015 as well as highlighting key challenges for 2016. The ICRC news release following the launch is below.

Bogotá (ICRC) – Although the fighting is abating between government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP), the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) is continuing to register the same levels of violence in the country as in previous years. In a report released today about the humanitarian challenges facing Colombia in 2016, the ICRC underlined the high incidence of death threats, disappearances and sexual violence in 2015.

“This shows us just how complex the situation is in Colombia right now,” said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. “The country is waiting for the conflict to end but the progress in Havana is not yet making a difference to the lives of most Colombians. They still face violence in various forms and need humanitarian relief.”

The Colombian government has registered 7.9 million victims of armed conflict. Among them, 6.9 million are IDPs. ©ICRC

The Colombian government has registered 7.9 million victims of armed conflict. Among them, 6.9 million are IDPs. ©ICRC

In 2015 the ICRC documented 812 alleged violations of international humanitarian law and other attacks – both linked to and separate from the armed conflict – which claimed 19,000 victims. For the most part, the perpetrators of this insidious violence attacked an individual or small group of people, so as to keep a low profile. Half of the acts targeted women and children.

When presenting its report, the ICRC highlighted four challenges for Colombia in 2016: searching for 79,000 missing persons; dealing with anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices; addressing violence not linked to the conflict; and improving prison conditions.

The Constitutional Court ordered a change in prison policies to comply with international standards to respect the dignity of detainees. In its judgment, the Court ordered the government to invite the ICRC to provide its experience in this area. ©ICRC

The Constitutional Court ordered a change in prison policies to comply with international standards to respect the dignity of detainees. In its judgment, the Court ordered the government to invite the ICRC to provide its experience in this area. ©ICRC

“These challenges concern all of us,” added Mr Harnisch. “The ICRC will continue working to find solutions and supporting the implementation of humanitarian agreements reached by the parties to the conflict. We stand ready to act as a neutral intermediary in any talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which have yet to begin formally.”

Mines and improvised devices are one of the main military strategies of the armed groups and other armed actors. Civilian casualties are falling but the risk remains high in many rural areas. ©ICRC

Mines and improvised devices are one of the main military strategies of the armed groups and other armed actors. Civilian casualties are falling but the risk remains high in many rural areas. ©ICRC

Over 275,000 people were helped by the ICRC’s work in Colombia in 2015. Many activities were carried out jointly with the Colombian Red Cross, which marked its 100th anniversary last year.

For further information, please contact:

Édgar Alfonso, ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 07 89

Elodie Schindler, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 51

For more information on ICRC activities in Colombia click here.

See the most recent Facts and Figures here.