“The hard-won peace is at risk as long as rural Colombians still live in fear for their lives,”said Christian Visnes, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Colombia.
Entering the third year of the peace agreement signed in 2016 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) and the government, the scale, severity, and complexity of needs in Colombia remain overwhelming. More than 4 million people require humanitarian assistance. Of these, over 100,000 are in acute need of protection and access to basic goods and services.
The rural population in many parts of the country are especially vulnerable and continue to face forced recruitments, killings, sexual violence and the threat of anti-personnel mines.
According to OCHA, in 2018 there has been a 40 per cent increase in people displaced by violence and conflict. Since 2016 over 4,000 attacks against civilians have been reported. This year, fighting has increased in rural areas of Colombia where several non-state armed groups are attempting to take control over strategic areas, natural resources and illegal businesses.
“What worries us the most is to have to return to our communities because there is no security. Armed actors are still present and we can once again be trapped in the middle of armed confrontations,” a displaced man in Norte de Santander said.
“Though an important achievement, peace with FARC-EP alone is not enough to stop the violence we are witnessing in country. The government must work harder to de-escalate ongoing conflict. All non-state armed groups must also comply with their obligations to respect the lives and rights of civilians, Visnes said and continued: “If the government and the international community, including the UN agencies, do not urgently react to this wave of violence the prolonged conflict and widespread displacement will continue to tear apart the social and economic fabric of Colombia. This can result in more suffering and compromise Colombian’s long-term future”.
- NRC has spokespersons available for interviews in Colombia.
- Photos can be downloaded for free use here: https://nrc.smugmug.com/Press/Photo-Essay-Colombia/