Photo: NRC/Fernanda Pineda
"The victims in Colombia do not have time to wait any longer", NRC's country director in Colombia, Christian Visnes says. Photo: NRC/Colombia

The humanitarian dimension in the aftermath of a peace agreement

David Garcia|Published 24. Feb 2015
“Despite improvements during the peace negotiations, the humanitarian situation in Colombia continues to be severe”, claims a new report assigned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“In the field, we are witnessing a failure of collective efforts to protect civilians in specific areas of the country and a population which is still affected and displaced by violence. Displaced people who claim the right to their lands continue receiving threats, and in specific locations such as in Magdalena, the current situation remains critical”, says NRC’s country director in Colombia, Christian Visnes.

The report “The humanitarian dimension in the aftermath of a peace agreement: proposals for the international community in Colombia” was developed by the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH) and the Norwegian Peace building Resource Centre and was assigned by OCHA in Colombia. It points out how the main humanitarian indicators have evolved during the negotiations in Havana.

The investigation emphasises that “a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC-EP) would (…) not automatically translate into an end to violence” and that “despite the expected improvement of some humanitarian indicators at the national level due to the significant reduction of FARC-EP military actions if a peace agreement were signed, other actors (…) still remain active sources of violence, the humanitarian effects of which may vary across regions.”

Severe humanitarian situation

Furthermore, the report indicates that in a post-agreement scenario there are possibilities of severe humanitarian situations. This is why it is recommended to keep, and if necessary increase, the presence of international humanitarian actors in Colombia. The report states that “An early withdrawal of humanitarian assistance may have negative impacts on at-risk groups and the evolution of the peace process, especially when the regions most affected by the conflict face important development gaps and challenges.” 

"For many displaced people the right of having access to humanitarian emergency or considering their lands restitution are still rights written on paper, and this situation must change”, Visnes urges.

The report discusses the challenges and the opportunities this implies for the humanitarian actors present in Colombia; “The need to change the role of the international humanitarian community since the signing of a peace agreement implies a review of its relationships with national and local state authorities. The change should be oriented to strengthening the coordination, complementarity and reinforcement of the state’s institutional capacities.”.

Visnes thinks it should be possible to obtain a peace agreement during 2015: “The victims in Colombia do not have time to wait any longer. In Buenaventura, Guapi and Tumaco there are newly displaced people as a consequence of the armed conflict. I hope the government and FARC seas the moment in Havana",  he says.