Colombia

Scanpix / Eitan Abramovich

Country Facts

DRC present since:

2011

Staff on location:

315

Displaced population:

8,500,000

Displacement Situation 

Thanks to its location at the crossroads of several major migration routes, more than 1.8 million refugees and migrants live in Colombia today. This is the largest population of its kind in South America, and Colombia is both a transit and destination country for migrants and refugees from Venezuela, but also for extra-continental Asian and African migrants who are generally en route towards the United States.  

Though many continue on towards neighbouring countries, an increasing number of Venezuelan migrants now stay in Colombia, either by choice or due to a lack of alternatives. They mostly settle in peripheral suburban settlements in the main cities, where they face great protection risks, including lack of access to legal documentation or basic social services (including health, education, and livelihoods opportunities), and suffer exclusion from their surrounding environment, among other issues. Without adequate protection, migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in Colombia are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Abusive smuggling practices and trafficking are key concerns, especially near the border with Venezuela.  

Colombia also hosts the world’s largest population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to the armed conflict ongoing here for more than 60 years. These IDPs face protection risks, including challenges in accessing their land rights. IDPs, and Colombians more generally, also remain at risk from the mines, Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used in the conflict, which remain a significant obstacle to creating a lasting peace. 

DRC Response 

DRC established its operational presence in Colombia in 2011 in partnership with Danish Demining Group (DDG), with a focus on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and supporting conflict-affected populations in the south of the country. With the onset of the large mixed migration flows into Colombia due to the Venezuelan crisis, DRC launched an integrated humanitarian response in 2018 to meet the urgent needs of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, as well as Colombian returnees and host communities.  

Primarily based on protection activities (protection monitoring, individual protection assistance, and legal assistance), DRC’s humanitarian response also includes components of Camp Management (at the Maicao Transit Camp), Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) and cash for rent, Non-Food Item (NFI) distributions, livelihood interventions, and prevention and response to Gender Based Violence (GBV).  

Through DDG, it also conducts Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) programming in Caquetá department.This programming includes community liaisons, Mine Risk Education (MRE) sessions, technical and non-technical surveys, and clearance activities with a focus on returning land to the affected communities.

Contact

Scott Tind Simmons

Head of Division for Africa & Americas

[email protected]

Yann Cornic

Country Director

[email protected]