IOM, in partnership with strategic actors, is strengthening institutional and community capacities on preparedness and response for emergency or crisis situations, including public health emergencies, in order to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of affected populations - including internally displaced persons (IDPs), former combatants, migrants and host communities - and supports sustainable recovery, community stabilization and peacebuilding at national and local levels. The humanitarian, recovery and peacebuilding response strategies are part of the IOM Colombia Country Programme for 2021-2024 - currently under review by the Government of Colombia (GoC) - in Strategic Area: 1) Stabilization, Peace with legality; Strategic Area 2; Migration as a development factor, and; Strategic Area 3) Technical Assistance for the acceleration of catalyst Sustainable Development Goals.
Colombia has been deeply impacted by more than 50 years of armed conflict in the country. This has provoked the displacement of more than 8 million IDPs and resulted in large numbers of victims of abuse and violence, particularly survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in need of reparation and reintegration support; fragile communities who lack income-generating opportunities and livelihoods; high levels of poverty and a lack of basic social services; and a heightened risk of human trafficking and recruitment of children by illegal armed groups and criminal gangs. After the signature of the Peace Agreement between the GoC and the FARC-EP, various initiatives were launched and continue to be implemented for the reintegration of former combatants, reparation of victims, capacity building and peacebuilding actions.
The delicate context in Colombia is further exacerbated by disasters (e.g. hurricane Iota severely affected the San Andres Archipelago and other departments of the northern region in late November 2020) in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the health and wellbeing as well as livelihoods of many IDPs, migrants and host communities, especially from minority ethnic groups. The pandemic has exacerbated life-saving needs in health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and access constraints to basic goods and services have caused food shortages, resulting in food insecurity. Living conditions of migrants and refugees in Colombia have deteriorated following the COVID-19 preventive isolation measures, as many have lost their income and have reduced access to goods and services. In addition, border closures have resulted in the heightened use of unsafe land routes, posing increasing threats to their life and dignity. Therefore, while refugees and migrants with an irregular status faced challenges in accessing host communities’ public services such as health, education and livelihood opportunities prior to the pandemic, such necessities have become inaccessible in many parts since March 2020, adding to refugees’ and migrants’ vulnerability. Since March 2020, IOM Colombia has carried out actions to reduce the impact of COVID-19 across health, WASH, shelter, food security and early recovery sectors; however, significant needs remain.
In addition, the arrival of refugees and migrants from Venezuela (with an estimated 1.7 million staying in Colombia and 845,000 Colombians and binational returnees), and Venezuelans in transit and crossing the border in pendular movements, has had a significant impact on the country given that these populations have arrived in territories with economic needs and where local institutions have limited response capacity. Despite the efforts of the GoC to support the regularisation of these populations, 56% are in an irregular situation, which increases their exposure to risks like sexual exploitation, trafficking and smuggling, recruitment and use of children by armed actors, GBV, family separation, and incidents with irregular armed groups.