Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)3.40 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.4.10 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.3.00 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: Impact of COVID-19 Government Measures
Three years after the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia continues to face multiple challenges. In 2020, at least 5.1 million people are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. The escalation of conflict, particularly in isolated rural areas, natural disasters, and the arrival of refugees and migrants are some of the factors that add to existing needs. The most affected departments are La Guajira, Norte de Santander, Arauca, Córdoba, Choco, Nariño, Putumayo, Guaviare.?
There has been a fragmentation of armed groups and drug cartels seeking greater territorial control in strategic areas. The increased violence, especially in rural areas, creates significant protection concerns. In 2019, some 35,300 people were internally displaced, more than 27,600 people suffered severe movement restrictions, and the use of anti-personnel mines increased. Confinement, threats, or armed curfews cause problems in safe access to education, health, and water collection activities for entire communities. These events are now taking place in areas previously unaffected by the conflict. Afro-Colombians and indigenous communities continue to be disproportionally affected by the conflict, and social leaders have become systematic targets of violent attacks.?
In addition, in 2019 there were 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Colombia, another 500,000 people transited through the country, and 500,000 Colombians returned from Venezuela. The impact of the arrival and transit of millions of people has been considerable on services and resources. ?
INFORM measures Colombia's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster for 2020 as High at 5.4/10. Hazard and exposure as well as vulnerability are a particular concern, at 6.9/10 and 6.1/10. ?
Latin America and the Caribbean have become the global epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. Measures taken to contain virus spread in the region are having negative impacts on the population. The regional economy is forecast to have its biggest contraction ever, particularly affecting those who work in the informal sector. As a result, the World Food Programme estimates that food insecurity across the region in 2020 will likely increase from the current 3.4 million to 13.7 million. In Haiti, the number of people in severe food insecurity is projected to rise from 700,000 to 1.6 million. In the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras), the number of people affected by severe food insecurity is projected to increase from 1.6 million up to 3 million. The number of vulnerable Venezuelan migrants and refugees experiencing severe food insecurity in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru is expected to increase from 540,000 to more than 1 million.?
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. The presence of armed groups, seeking greater territorial control, hinders humanitarian operations. Most affected areas are the borders with Venezuela and the Pacific coast. Increased violence between armed groups contributes to high levels of confinement, internal displacement, and the presence of improvised explosive devices, which intensifies needs and complicates access to services.
Venezuelan refugees often face further bureaucratic barriers in accessing assistance, and they often fall victim of armed groups while transiting conflict-affected areas. Colombia is also prone to natural hazards, including heavy rains and landslides, further complicate poor transport infrastructure.
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. ?
IMPACT OF COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis is having a severe impact on food security, particularly in Latin America. Basic grains had maintained low and stable prices thanks to the recent harvest season, but the COVID-19 emergency has led to massive purchases and higher prices. Remittances from abroad declined over January-February 2020, with purchasing power deteriorating as a result. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean could quadruple from the current 3,4 million to 13,7 million in 2020.?
In Colombia, food insecurity is becoming a critical priority in the current emergency response, due to COVID-19. The World Food Programme estimates more than 950,000 people in need of food assistance. Departments prioritised for immediate attention are Antioquia, Córdoba, Caquetá, Chocó, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Cauca, and Valle del Cauca. Government measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 have led to a decrease in income, and higher degree of economic vulnerability, particularly affecting informal workers and low-income families in urban and rural areas. Households that have seen their livelihoods affected face limitations in accessing food. The number of children under five years of age with acute malnutrition will likely increase in the coming months. ?
Find more information about the global impact of COVID-19 here.
INFORMATION GAPS AND NEEDS
Violence has become normalized and occurs without impunity, resulting in underreporting. Internal displacement is under-registered, due to threats by armed groups against displaced people and officials involved in the registration. The extent and nature of confinement are extremely difficult to quantify and characterize. As a result, figures of affected population tend to be under-registered and the response is difficult or delayed.
Colombia is prone to frequent natural disasters. The rainy season (May-November) typically results in the overflowing of rivers leading to road blockages, damage to crops and agricultural activities, and damage to homes, schools and other infrastructure.?
During the dry season forest fires are common, destroying large hectares of forest and restricting access to crops, leading to food insecurity and health concerns.
In 2019, natural disasters affected more than 299,000 people. The departments most affected were Chocó, Nariño, Bolívar, Córdoba, Cauca, Antioquia and Putumayo. ?
Protection: as conflict continues, especially in rural and border areas, there has been an increase of threats against civilians, displacement, confinement, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced recruitment. Departments of greatest concern are Chocó, Antioquia, Córdoba, Cauca, Norte de Santander, Arauca, Putumayo and Nariño.
Food security: at least 2.4 million people in Colombia will need food assistance in 2020.Mainly in those areas most affected by armed conflict and natural hazards. Agricultural production as well as access and availability of food have been affected by armed groups.
Health: only 52.2% of the population had regular access to healthcare in 2019Infrastructure and response capacity at national level face limitations, with a greater impact in border areas and areas affected by the armed conflict.
Shelter and NFIs: during mass displacements people take shelter in family homes, communal houses, schools, or other improvised facilities. As result there is a lack of basic sanitation and distribution of spaces.