THE AMERICAS AND CARIBBEAN Colombia
© UNICEF Colombia/2011/Amador
Miguel Campos is among 4 million Colombians affected by seasonal flooding in 2010 and 2011. Natural disasters are compounding a humanitarian crisis caused by 50 years of armed conflict, now including attacks on schools and increased sexual violence.
September 2012 Update: UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children [PDF]
Immediate Needs for Women and Children Affected by the Floods in Putumayo, Colombia, August 2012 [PDF]
Children and Women in Crisis
The armed conflict in Colombia, which has now lasted for nearly 50 years, continues to fuel a protracted humanitarian crisis and represents a considerable challenge to governance, the respect of human rights and sustainable economic development in the country. Overall, the security of the population and the humanitarian situation continue to be profoundly affected.
Children in Colombia live in a most vulnerable environment and are continually victimized by recruitment by armed groups, indiscriminate attacks, sexual violence, displacement, confinement and threats from anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance. The occupation and attacks on schools have continued. In this context, girls remain among the most vulnerable segments of the population. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has indicated that the commission by the armed groups of grave forms of sexual violence against recruited girls is of particular concern.1
Many communities are still recovering from the consequences of the rainy season of 2010, which include the loss of homes, displacement and disruption of schooling. No less than 4 million people were affected by the rains during 2010–2011.2
Meeting Urgent Needs in 2012
UNICEF leads WASH and education clusters. Together with the Government of Colombia, other UN agencies, the Catholic Church and NGOs, UNICEF will aim to address the needs of 190,000 people, including 8,000 women, 83,000 boys and 88,000 girls. UNICEF expects to achieve the following key results:
- UNICEF will provide an estimated 50,000 children and 4,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women in communities affected by the armed conflict or natural hazards with access to nutrition services and emergency health supplies, including oral rehydration salts, micronutrient supplements, ready-to-use therapeutic foods and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. UNICEF will strengthen the capacity of 110 mobile units of the National Institute of Family Welfare, as well as local partners and authorities of 10 prioritized departments for the comprehensive care of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women affected by natural hazards and armed conflict.
- Approximately 15,000 children and women in rural communities affected by natural hazards will have access to safe and sufficient water and sanitation services through the installation or repair of community systems and education on best hygiene practices.
- Some 20,000 children from schools affected by the armed conflict will be able to exercise the right to education. The schools will display signs as places protected by international humanitarian law, and UNICEF will support the development of comprehensive programmes to prevent recruitment of children and accidents by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
- An estimated 40,000 children will be educated on landmine risk, and 80,000 children will participate in programmes on prevention of recruitment by armed groups. Some 250 children rescued from armed groups will be protected by an integral attention programme of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute that guarantees return to their families. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Grave Child Rights Violations (UN Security Council Resolution 1612) has improved its information system and monitoring of cases. Some 5,000 children will receive psychosocial support from the mobile units of the National Institute of Family Welfare, trained by UNICEF.
Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011
UNICEF requested US$10,300,000 for its humanitarian work in Colombia in 2011. As of end October, US$1,396,114 (14 per cent) had been received. Complemented with funds from regular sources, UNICEF assisted 75,000 people affected by natural hazards or armed conflict. More than 37,000 children and 900 pregnant or breastfeeding women in the north and west of Colombia received integrated assistance in health, nutrition, education and protection. Some 17,000 children impacted by the rainy season in these regions were assisted with education kits, recreational kits and school tents.
Approximately 20,000 people gained access to safe water with the installation or repair of community systems.
Nearly 17,000 indigenous children and their families in rural communities in the Pacific Coast region received food, nutrition and protection assistance, and more than 3,000 indigenous children under 5 were supported in early childhood development.
More than 41,000 children and adolescents participated in programmes to prevent recruitment by armed groups. Some 11,000 children benefited from psychosocial support through the Return to Happiness strategy.3
Funding Requirements for 2012
UNICEF is requesting US$6,200,000 to continue its humanitarian work in Colombia. Full funding is essential to ensure direct assistance to thousands of children who are affected by the armed conflict and recurrent natural hazards.
1 United Nations, Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General, – A/65/820–S/2011/250, United Nations, New York, 23 April 2011, p. 37.
2 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Humanitarian Situation No. 40’, OCHA, Geneva and New York, p. 1.
3 Using an approach based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the methodology of the Return to Happiness strategy aims to reduce, through a game, the aftermath of the emotional damage that can occur in children affected by emergencies, as well as build their capacity resistance and recovery, and help them to return to a normal life.