Despite significant development gains in Colombia over the past decade, including the 2016 Peace Agreement with the country’s largest guerrilla group (the FARC), humanitarian needs are still rising.
The humanitarian situation remains acute due to (i) the territorial expansion of armed non-state actors, (ii) the increased impact of hazards related to climate change, (iii) growing socio-economic vulnerabilities exacerbated by COVID-19, and (iv) the integration needs of more than 2 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
What are the needs?
According to the UN, in 2022, 7.7 million people in Colombia will need humanitarian assistance.
Last year, at least 239,000 people suffered from the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. This includes forced displacement, confinements, threats, homicides, landmine explosions, and forced recruitment, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The conflict affects especially Afro-Colombians and indigenous communities. Civilians have become systematic targets of violent attacks, particularly on the Pacific Coast and border regions. A record number of attacks were reported in 2021, with an alarming increase in killings.
The most vulnerable people require protection, food assistance, health care, education, and safe water. Besides basic needs, the situation of refugees and internally displaced people also requires protection, psychosocial, legal assistance and development of durable solution.
Over 7 million Venezuelans have fled their country since 2015, of which more than 2.48 million live in Colombia. The 2022 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) projects staggering figures such as up to 4.83 million people in need of assistance in Colombia, including migrants, refugees, and host communities.
Colombia reported more than 6 million COVID-19 cases and over 140,000 deaths as of June 2022.
The pandemic also severely impacted the socio-economic structure of the country. According to Government data, 3.5 million people fell into poverty, bringing the total number of persons in a situation of poverty to 21 million (42.5% of the population).
Volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, and droughts represent another threat to people’s stability, affecting millions throughout the country. In 2021 alone, nearly 1 million people were affected by natural hazards.
How are we helping?
Colombia is the largest recipient of EU humanitarian aid in Latin America, with €372 million since 1994.
In 2022, the EU allocated €15 million in humanitarian aid to Colombia. In addition, more than €22 million were mobilised for Colombia as part of regional humanitarian projects to support vulnerable and forcibly displaced Venezuelans and their host communities.
The EU pays special attention to victims of forgotten crises – severe and protracted humanitarian crises where affected people do not receive sufficient international aid, such as in Colombia.
Colombians affected by the conflict are our priority, whether in their communities or fleeing violence (including those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries). We help provide protection, health care, water and sanitation with a particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women, children and indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations.
Since 2017, the EU has funded more than 60 humanitarian projects to support over 2.4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees living in Colombia. The aim is to guarantee that they have adequate access to health care, education and protection.
The EU also focuses on food assistance, particularly for those whose financial resources are constrained by armed groups. We also work to ensure that internally displaced children and migrant and refugee minors can go to school.
In 2020 and 2021, the EU provided humanitarian assistance to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Colombia. We have either adapted ongoing projects or released new funding in the health, water, sanitation and hygiene sectors focusing on indigenous communities living in the country’s remotest areas.
In total, the EU allocated over €20 million, of which more than €7.5 million were implemented in Colombia to provide healthcare services, water sanitation systems, and hygiene promotion.
The EU strives to reduce the risks associated with natural hazards and increase the resilience and preparedness of people most vulnerable to floods, droughts, landslides, and earthquakes. Disaster preparedness and capacity building are integrated into all projects to limit the impact of natural hazards and to strengthen the response capacity of communities and institutions.
Since 1994, more than €16 million has been dedicated to emergency response and assistance to victims of disasters resulting from natural hazards, and over €20 million to disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction to better prepare communities and institutions to face future hazards.
Last updated: 20/12/2022
Facts & figures
7.7 million people in Colombia need humanitarian assistance (HRP 2022)
8.2 million internally displaced people since the start of the Colombian conflict (UARIV, 2022)
More than 142,000 Colombian refugees and around 68,000 seeking asylum in third countries (UNHCR, 2022)
Over 2.48 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela (RMRP 2023)
EU humanitarian funding:
€37 million in 2022 (funding including assistance for Venezuelans)
€372 million since 1994