Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)3.50 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.3.40 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.3.50 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.3.50 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.3.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Colombia: Displacement in Choco
Armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government lasted five decades and displaced more than 7 million people. A peace deal signed in November 2016 ended the conflict and the FARC started a Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) process, while other armed groups such as the Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL) and Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) reshuffled and are fighting for control of land and illicit crop production in areas vacated by the FARC. ? Forced displacement and landmine contamination are major humanitarian concerns. Internal displacement is under-registered, due to threats by armed groups against displaced people and officials involved in the registration of IDPs. The departments most affected by displacement are Chocó, Nariño, Valle del Cauca, and Cauca on the Pacific coast, Norte de Santander on the border with Venezuela, and Antioquia. In rural communities, armed group activity restricts movement and limits access to basic health services, crops, and labour markets. Afro-Colombians, indigenous and rural communities are disproportionally affected. ? Attacks against human rights activists and community leaders by armed groups increased in 2018 and 2019. ? Colombia also experiences frequent natural disasters. The rainy season (May-November) typically results in flooding in many regions, putting thousands of people in need of shelter and NFIs. The Caribbean coast and the Andean regions are usually the most affected by floods and landslides.
INFORM measures Colombia's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster for 2019 as High at 5.5/10, a slight increase from 5.4/10 in 2018. Hazard and exposure as well as vulnerability are a particular concern, at 6.8/10 and 6.2/10. ?
As a result of confrontation between armed groups, since 11 March, over 3,000 people have been subject to confinement and another 2,000 have been internally displaced in rural areas of Alto Baudó, Choco region. Since 4 March, around 1,000 people have also been subject to confinement in Roberto Payán, Nariño region. ?
ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information related to the outbreak in Colombia, see content below.
Colombia remains accessible, though it presents uneven access levels across the country. Systemic violence and the presence of armed groups hinders humanitarian operations. The situation along the borders with Venezuela and the Pacific coast, where armed groups fight for control, remain particularly volatile. Violent clashes contribute to high levels of internal displacement and population confinement, which intensifies needs and complicates access to services. Despite Colombia’s open approach to Venezuelan refugees, they often face further bureaucratic barriers in accessing assistance. Furthermore, they often fall victim of armed groups in conflict-affected areas. Across the country natural hazards, including heavy rains and landslides, further complicate poor transport infrastructure. Additionally, the threat of improvised explosives persists throughout the country.
Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.
Colombia’s government signed a peace agreement with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in 2016 but armed conflict has continued, leaving people with unmet humanitarian needs in Norte de Santander, Chocó and Nariño departments. After the peace agreement, competing armed groups fought for control over areas previously controlled by FARC and conflict intensified. At the beginning of 2018 the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) declared war on the National Liberation Army (ELN). Their clashes intensified in 2019, fuelled also by the presence of FARC dissidents and paramilitary groups such as the Clan del Golfo. Escalation of armed conflict is probable in the coming months, owing to the slow implementation of the peace agreement, the absence of dialogue between the government and armed groups, and the presence of new armed groups. The population has been affected by disruption of access to services and livelihoods, displacement, presence of antipersonnel mines, and forced recruitment. ?
Conflict-driven internal displacement is expected to continue over the next six months. According to government figures, around 27,000 people were internally displaced in Norte de Santander, Chocó, and Nariño departments in 2019, though the actual number is likely higher due to a lag in government registries. Displacement has continued in 2020 particularly in Norte de Santander and Nariño, where IDPs need shelter and food. ?
The situation worsened after 13 February, when armed groups held an “armed strike”, sparking additional clashes. In Catatumbo (Norte de Santander) around 20,000 people in rural areas suffered severe movement restrictions as the armed groups controlling the territory cut access to roads, health facilities, education, and crops, and stopped public transport. Such confinement also affected around 23,000 people in Choco during 2018. ?
Higher rates of confinement and displacement in rural areas are probable as armed groups gain control of territory. The municipalities of Tibu, San Calixto, El Tarra, Sardinata, Abrego, La Playa and Bojaya Tumaco Roberto Payán, Magüí Payán y Olaya Herrera, where conflict has been most active, have an estimated population of 494,000 people. ?
Further confinement and more “armed strikes”, combined with use of antipersonnel mines, will likely create significant access constraints for people living in the affected areas, and for humanitarian actors present. In rural areas safe access to potable water and basic sanitation, as well as access to crops, transport, education, and health institutions will be hindered, leading to food insecurity, livelihood, and protection concerns; decreased access to education and healthcare.
Increased violence will likely lead to security and access challenges for aid workers, creating difficulties in reaching affected populations or resulting in temporary suspension of humanitarian activities in certain regions. Protection issues related to sexual and gender-based violence, forced recruitment, and forced labour are likely if the conflict continues and armed groups expand their presence in the department. Norte de Santander hosts around 202,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants, who are particularly vulnerable to such human rights violations. ?
On 13 March the Colombian government announced the immediate closure of all borders on 17 March until 30 May in attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19. This will increase the number of migrants who chose to move via irregular crossing points which puts them at greater exposure to armed groups and natural hazards. The measures will also affect Venezuelans who rely on medicine, medical supplies and other goods to be supplied from Colombia. Migrants and refugees from Venezuela, especially those who are not registered, will be particularly vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. The conditions in which Venezuelan migrants find themselves including homelessness and overcrowded shelters, with no access to basic sanitation facilities, are conducive to the spread of diseases.?
The National Liberation Army (ELN) has called for a one-month unilateral cease-fire starting on 1 April to allow an unrestricted response to the outbreak ?
Find more information about the global impact of COVID-19 here.