Viento Libre ('Free wind') is a neighborhood with high risk of child recruitment by armed groups in Tumaco. 

NRC has worked with the community for bringing back the education to the life of children through the construction of a classroom.  The whole community including parents and volunteer teachers work with NRC in the promotion of  protective spaces for education and in activities during the spare time - when the risk increases -.

Colombia, Nariño, Tumaco

Photo by Edgar León
Read caption Viento Libre ('free wind') is a neighbourhood with high risk of child recruitment by armed groups in Tumaco. NRC workers promote protective spaces for education and activities. Photo: Edgar León/NRC

NRC in Colombia

NRC Colombia
A six decade-long armed conflict has given Colombia the most prolonged and serious humanitarian crisis in the Americas. Since 1991, NRC has been active in the country, where millions of people have been forcibly displaced.

This page covers our work in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama.


A total of


people in need received our assistance in 2020.

Humanitarian overview

Colombia’s six decade-long armed conflict continues to force hundreds of thousands to flee. The recent surge in violence, landmine accidents, sexual violence and forced recruitment, and the killing of former combatants, human rights defenders and social leaders of communities devastated by decades of conflict, remain the most serious threats to peace in Colombia since the signing of a landmark peace agreement in 2016.

Colombia has the second largest internally displaced population in the world after Syria, and more than five million people need humanitarian aid. Over 190,000 Colombians have fled to neighbouring Ecuador, Panamá and Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Colombia hosts around 1.7 million people who have fled from the growing humanitarian situation in neighbouring Venezuela.

Finally, NRC has observed a considerable increase in emergency humanitarian needs due to the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.


People we helped in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama in 2020

people benefited from our education programme
people benefited from our food security programme
people benefited from our shelter programme
people benefited from our ICLA programme
people benefited from our WASH programme

NRC's operation

We provide assistance to IDPs in rural areas where authorities struggle to provide help, and in urban environments, where the majority of Colombia’s IDPs have sought safety. We also contribute to the process of reintegration of former combatants into civilian life, and to the self-management, integration and stabilisation of the territories affected by armed conflict.

The crisis in Venezuela means that many people are seeking humanitarian aid in other countries. We are implementing a multi-country (Colombia-Panamá-Ecuador) action plan to respond. NRC is currently assisting Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru through our partner Encuentros – Servicio Jesuita de Solidaridad.


NRC EducationEducation

We help displaced families keep their children in school, and work with youth and adults so they can complete their education and find safe vocational training opportunities. Despite the distancing measures imposed due to the pandemic, we continue to work with schools to reach people with educational materials and kits, identify challenges and solutions to ensure continuity of education and ensure those who are out of school are not neglected in this context.


NRC Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)

NRC continues to provide reliable and up-to-date information on access to documentation. We improve access to registration procedures and legal humanitarian assistance, as well as access to land and housing for communities who have had their land or houses seized or abandoned. As many people face particular challenges in accessing their rights to housing during the pandemic, we work with justice mechanisms – from traditional and state mechanisms, to collaborative resolution mechanisms – to help resolve housing disputes and prevent evictions.

NRC Shelter and settlementsShelter and settlements

Access to shelter is essential for one’s dignity, privacy, health, and physical and social protection. Our shelter and settlements teams provide access to adequate shelter solutions for affected people across all phases of displacement. This ranges from rapidly deployable emergency shelter solutions that can save lives, to supporting early recovery and promoting durable solutions.


NRC Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion

Without sufficient safe water for drinking and personal hygiene, it is difficult to stay healthy and combat the pandemic. We provide infrastructure and equipment for water and water treatment, as well as hygiene and sanitation kits. We also teach good hygiene practices and we help displaced families achieve better living conditions.


NRC Livelihoods and food securityLivelihoods and food security

When displaced people do not have access to food supplies, NRC provides food assistance. We promote livelihood strategies that protect, restart and strengthen the ability of individuals and households to earn a living. The inclusion of host communities in this response is key to preventing discrimination and xenophobia.


Cash transfers

In times of crisis, cash-based humanitarian assistance enables people in need to buy food, hygiene products or pay rent. NRC makes electronic transfers through different means (such as smartphones or electronic payment cards) to displaced people and host communities. We also provide vouchers, coupons or cards that can be exchanged for a specific amount of goods and services.


Emergency response    

When a new conflict arises in remote locations, we provide humanitarian assistance to communities where no permanent field presence has yet been or can be established. We also help newly displaced children go to safe learning environments during acute emergencies.


NRC Colombia is grateful for the generous support from our donors:
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway (NMFA)
  • Norad - Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
  • Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (BPRM)
  • European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
  • United Kingdom Embassy
  • Norwegian Embassy
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Dubai Cares
  • The Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO)
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)


About NRC in Colombia

1991–2004: Indirect presence through Project Counselling Service Consortium. 2005 – Direct presence in Colombia
International staff
Areas of operation
Colombia: Bogota, Arauca (Arauca), Guapi (Cauca), Florencia (Caqueta), Quibdo (Choco), San Jose de Guaviare (Guaviare), Riohacha (La Guajira), Santa Marta (Magdalena), Cucuta and Ocaña (Norte de Santander), Cali (Valle del Cauca), Ipiales and Tumaco (Nariño), Villavicencio (Meta). Ecuador: Esmeraldas, Lago Agrio, Tulcan, Guayaquil, Huaquillas, Manta, San Lorenzo, Ibarra, San Domingo, Cuenca and Quito. Panama: Ciudad de Panama.
Budget 2019
USD 14.4 million
National staff

NRC in Colombia

Country Director

Dominika Arseniuk


(+571) 514 0461