June 21, 2022
World Refugee Day 2022
Five years ago the Colombian Government and the former FARC guerrilla group signed a peace agreement. Despite the promise to end half a century of armed conflict, the violence has continued in remote areas around Colombia, impacting the lives of millions of civilians. Today, the Colombian Government recognizes the displacement of more than 8 million people, with more than 130,000 displaced in 2021 alone. Colombia currently holds the 3rd largest population of Internally Displaced People (IDP), after Syria and Ukraine.
Violence has become a daily endurance for many civilians caught in the crosshairs. In 2021, more than 2,200 attacks against civilians were reported, with a total of over 239,000 people impacted. Colombian healthcare facilities and workers experienced 325 attacks, a record in the past 24 years. With the armed violence, COVID-19, 2 million Venezuelan refugees and a weakened healthcare infrastructure, nearly 7 million people are in need of aid in Colombia.
The Visible Campaign was created to bring attention to the dire situation many civilians face in Colombia due to the continued conflict. The campaign was realized through the hard work carried out by 5 humanitarian organizations in the remote, difficult-to-reach parts of Colombia where conflict is high and healthcare access remains challenging.
The collaboration is called MIRE, the Intersectoral Mechanism for Emergency Response, and consists of Action Against Hunger, Norwegian Refugee Council, Alliance for Solidarity, ACAPS, and Doctors of the World. MIRE is dedicated to alleviating the most urgent humanitarian needs of those affected by the armed conflict and the consequences of the pandemic in Colombia. It is further financed by the EU through its Commission on Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO).
The Visible Campaign is a culmination of the experiences and stories that these 5 humanitarian organizations gathered while working in Colombia. It consists of 6 interviews, featuring different individuals as they recount the impact the conflict had on them and their families. Each perspective differs, from the one of a single mother, to a boy and his dog, or a young family of 4. They open up to share their struggles and bring awareness to the crisis ongoing in Colombia.
MIRE launched this campaign to give voice to those caught in the conflict and bring global awareness to the situation. However, MIRE’s work extends far beyond the Visible Campaign, not only advocating but also providing humanitarian assistance to thousands across Colombia.
Doctors of the World (DoTW) Colombia has many ongoing projects in Colombia, focusing on addressing various key issues. Protection workshops have been provided for children and adolescents, as well as medical assistance, legal advice, psychological guidance, education programs, hygiene elements, economic support, and shelter. Our attention remains on displaced/confined populations that have been affected by the conflict, natural disasters, and COVID-19. The approach for DoTW Colombia goes beyond assistance, the team also carries out activities that can improve the quality of life of people, through the generation of empowerment processes for social change.
The long-term violence has forced many to flee their homes and seek safety in the United States. It is imperative that they are received with care and support, not further violence, as has been seen along the US border. In March 2022, the US Customs and Border Control Office reported that authorities detained 5,144 Colombians who tried to enter this country undocumented or requested asylum at the time of their arrest. In 2022 alone, nearly 40,000 Colombians have been detained. The critical situation in Colombia has left many with few choices, a new start in the US may grant them the chance to rebuild their homes and recover from the trauma experienced. Doctors of the World will continue to support migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to have access to healthcare at every stage of their journey, regardless of their nationality, immigration status or reason for leaving their country. We will continue to improve their living conditions and to protect them.