© UNICEF/NYHQ2004-0801

César Uruba and his family live in a poor community in Bogotá. A former union organizer, he fled his home in Antioquia Department when paramilitaries threatened to kill him.


As a consequence of more than four decades of armed violence, the complex humanitarian situation that prevails in Colombia has a devastating impact on children and women. During 2008, armed fighting between the illegal armed groups and the Colombian military forces intensified in different areas of the country. As a consequence, many communities in the South and West of the country have been affected.

Internal displacement is the most evident humanitarian consequence of this situation. Based on official records, 1,976,970 persons have been displaced over the past 10 years – of which 2 per cent are indigenous people and 5.5 per cent Afro-descendants. Official data indicate that 48 per cent of the displaced are women and 36 per cent children. However, as per unofficial data, there are an estimated 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia today. According to preliminary estimates, more than 83,900 persons have been displaced during the first semester of 2008.

The presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) represents a grave and growing concern in Colombia. There are no official estimates on the number of children recruited by illegal armed groups, although the recruitment of under-18-year-olds is common practice among all these groups.

Colombia’s geographic and climatic conditions make it particularly vulnerable to emergencies from natural disasters. In the first nine months of 2008, 713,980 persons were affected by earthquakes, flooding, landslides or storms with high winds.


For 2009, UNICEF’s humanitarian action will focus on protecting children and adolescents from the effects of armed conflict, by strengthening their protective environments and with an institutional response based both on local public policies and specific national policies. UNICEF’s planned humanitarian action will benefit a total of 248,000 children.

Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons: UNIICEF will support 48,000 persons, mainly children and women, forcibly confined or displaced as a result of the violence generated by illegal armed groups, providing temporary water and basic sanitation, civil birth registration documents, school kits, psychosocial care for children, and information on how to claim rights and access assistance.

Emergency Assistance: In coordination with the other UN agencies in Colombia, UNICEF will support 50,000 persons in the event of natural disasters, mainly women and children, with school kits, psychosocial care, school rehabilitation and water and basic sanitation systems.

Humanitarian Mine Action: UNICEF will support humanitarian mine action interventions for some 75,000 persons living in areas where there is a high risk of landmine/UXO-related accidents; and share information among 15,000 families on the danger of landmines/UXO.

Prevention of Child Recruitment and Protection of Children Demobilized from Armed Groups: UNICEF will implement and support actions to prevent the recruitment by illegal armed groups of 75,000 children; and provide technical assistance to national institutions to broaden the coverage of national programmes for the family and community reintegration of adolescents demobilized from illegal armed groups.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2009*
Sector US$
Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons 2,500,000
Emergency Assistance 1,000,000
Humanitarian Mine Action 750,000
Prevention of Child Recruitment and Protection of Children Demobilized from Armed Groups 1,200,000
Total** 5,450,000

* Funds received against this appeal will be used to respond to both the immediate and medium-term needs of children and women as outlined above. If UNICEF should receive funds in excess of the medium-term funding requirements for this emergency, UNICEF will use those funds to support other, underfunded emergencies.
** The total includes a maximum recovery rate of 7 per cent. The actual recovery rate on contributions will be calculated in accordance with UNICEF Executive Board Decision 2006/7 dated 9 June 2006.