The clashes between armed groups continue to cause fear amongst indigenous communities and rural populations. “In the last few days, we have been providing assistance to displaced populations in Caceres and we have been talking to the victims, humanitarian aid workers and local authorities. Our conclusion is that there remains a lot to be done to ensure humanitarian assistance and protection of communities in these regions of the country, who continue to be affected by the violence,” says Christian Visnes, NRC Country Director in Colombia.
This year has commenced with an alarming number of displacements. In the first 45 days of 2018, almost 3,000 Colombians have been forced to leave their homes. To date, the protracted crisis has displaced approximately 7,3 million Colombians.
It is urgent and necessary to strengthen the humanitarian response to affected populations. This means to support local authorities when they request help in assisting these communities, ensure emotional wellbeing, provide access to education during the emergency phase and protect children and youth.
“It should be possible to end the conflict for good. The victims in Colombia do not have more time to wait for the conflict to end. I hope that this Government and the succeeding Government will find that long awaited moment in this country”, says Christian.
The Government’s recognition of victims is an example of the solidarity that has been shown to displaced people. At the same time, NRC is witnessing a collective failure to protect civilians in the areas that remain affected by the conflict. More than 214 people who have fled to the urban centre of Caceres are in urgent need of assistance in finding proper shelter.
Colombia’s rural communities are disproportionally affected by the armed conflict. According to 2017 data from the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, seven out of ten displaced people belong to rural communities.
NRC calls on the parties to the conflict to respect the rights of the indigenous and the rural communities who remain caught in the crossfire. Protection must prevail in communities affected by attacks and assassinations of community leaders, and other violations against human rights. It is urgent to timely respond in an effective manner to this grave situation, in order to ensure collective protection of children, youth and adults.