FOREWORD BY THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR
2018 will be a year of great opportunities and humanitarian challenges for Colombia. The peace accord signed between the FARC-EP1 and the national government has caused a certain reduction in armed actions in some regions where violent actions and impact on the civilian population have historically existed. Additionally, the dialogues with the ELN2 guerrilla group in Quito are included in this scenario; and despite uncertainty in the face of the electoral process and a polarized society, an atmosphere of hope has been created in some zones of the country affected by armed conflict for more than fifty years.
Nonetheless, with a cumulative history (1985-2017)3 of more than 7.3 million displaced persons, the consolidation of peace and promotion of durable solutions in the post-accord context is no easy task. A significant part of the population continues to suffer grave humanitarian consequences that persist due to the dynamics of violence identified and prioritized in the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). The non-state armed actors – to include some that have appeared recently -, postdemobilization armed groups and dissidents4 have extended their presence and actions in the areas left by the FARC-EP and continue causing victimizing acts. As a result, mass displacements, recruitment, threats and assassinations to human rights leaders and defenders, homicides, sexual violence, restrictions on mobility and confinement still pose great challenges for consolidating respect for human rights. Added to these dynamics of violence is the country´s high vulnerability in the face of natural disasters, and the need to attend to the Venezuelan population with no socio-economic guarantees and looking for permanence in the country, of which a highly significant number have need for international protection. This has had an impact on receiving communities, particularly in the Northeastern border zones, where absorption capacity and response is reduced; and in the regions most hit by the identified dynamics of violence (Pacific, Southeastern and Southern parts of the country).
The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has closely followed these phenomena and is working to mitigate them through a coordinated strategy between humanitarian, peace building and development issues. It is about accompanying the progress towards the construction of peace and maintaining presence, articulation and complementary attention to alleviate the latent humanitarian situation.
The HCT´s objective with the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan is to focus efforts on saving lives, reducing protection risks and ensuring the recovery of the afrocolombian, indigenous, Venezuelan, women, boys and girls communities and all those in situations of vulnerability. This strategy will be the framework and opportunity to carry out programming based on a shared view of the context, seeking collective outcomes and avoiding vacuums and duplications in the response. This is the challenge of the “new ways of working”. In this sense, the Local Coordination Teams (LCTs) play a fundamental role in coordinating humanitarian action with the implementation of the peace accords and peace building at the local level.
Between January and November 2017, the HCT attended to 425,1765 beneficiaries. Nevertheless, considering that 4.9 million people6 have humanitarian needs in Colombia, there is still much work to be done. Because of that, incidence and visibility of humanitarian and protection impacts is imperative in the search for the humanitarian financing still required.
Complementary to this humanitarian plan, for the first time in Colombia we have carried out a Peace Building Overview (PBO). The PBO will be a support for the discussions on areas of joint intervention between humanitarian, peace and development issues, with the national leadership and the LCTs at territory level. It is the best tool for responding to the challenges implied by the new ways of working. It is our wager for strengthening the joint vision and response as UNS and NGOs, in close collaboration with the entities, and highlighting the transversalization of the protection, prevention and gender approaches. In short, to move decidedly towards the Secretary General´s vision of Sustaining Peace, reducing risks and vulnerabilities.
Martin Santiago Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator