Operation: Opération: Colombia



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Key Figures

2019 planning figures
8,000 IDPs and 10,000 refugees will be provided with information on government status determination procedures
2,000 Venezuelans will be assisted with civil status registration and documentation
1,000 Venezuelans will receive emergency shelter
800 IDPs and 5,000 refugees will receive legal assistance
400 vulnerable Venezuelan households of receive multi-purpose cash grants to help meet their basic needs
14 community-based committees and groups working on SGBV prevention and response will be supported 
3 public awareness campaigns against xenophobia will be conducted
2017 year-end results
126,080 vulnerable people received civil registration or identity documents 
19,860 people of concern received legal assistance
220 households received multipurpose or sectoral cash assistance 
160  local and national level State institutions were provided with capacity-building to protect and facilitate durable solutions for IDPs

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 9,015,122
2017 7,747,365
2016 7,411,675


[["Refugees",310],["Asylum-seekers",2880],["IDPs",7816472],["Returned refugees",23897],["Stateless",11],["Venezuelans displaced abroad",1171552]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[30.54009716,31.64999552,31.48831469,29.10286757,34.12837795,49.710822],"expenditure":[18.22635741,15.30149255,14.34249313,16.34013628,22.89252664,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[1.36255488,1.28923061,0.97474715,2.23460232,12.57188246,32.747555],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[29.17754228,30.36076491,30.51356754,26.86826525,21.55649549,16.963267]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[0.71250308,0.65932352,0.57263632,1.97688292,11.02916958,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[17.51385433,14.64216903,13.76985681,14.36325336,11.86335706,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context 

As the implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia remained challenging, the conduct of armed groups resulted in new and recurrent displacement as well as restrictions on freedom of movement throughout 2018. More than 138,000 Colombians were displaced in 2018 alone.
UNHCR concentrated its presence in the border areas with Ecuador and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as along the Pacific coast where there were high levels of displacement and human rights violations.
Grappling with its own internal displacement, Colombia is also the primary host for Venezuelans on the move. Between 2015 and 2018 over 1 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have settled in Colombia and an additional million have transited through the country.

Population trends

At year end, the population of concern in Colombia stood at more than 7.8 million, of which 7.8 million were IDPs. In addition to the internally displaced population, Colombia was hosting some 1.1 Venezuelans, while an increased number of Colombian returned from Venezuela spontaneously.
The number of recognized refugees in the country stood at 311, with 13 cases (37 people) having been recognized by the Government during the year (including 3 Cubans, 1 Afghan and 33 Venezuelans).

Key achievements

In alignment with the multi-year, multi-partner strategy goal of strengthening the asylum system, achievements included the training of over 2,900 government officials in 2018, the strengthening of the interagency coordination mechanism for the response to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, regular updating of the contingency plan and the implementation of the anti-xenophobia campaign and local strategies for peaceful coexistence.
To find solutions and ensuring self-reliance for Venezuelans, UNHCR collaborated with the Ministry of Labour, the national vocational training institute and public-private social welfare funds to support employment service and orientation fairs.  In addition, UNHCR joined the sub-commission for Management of Labour Migration, and reached out to the private sector to combat xenophobia in employment and to encourage labour market access for Venezuelans.
The Collective Protection Decree was issued in 2018 after four years of UNHCR technical assistance to the Ministry of Interior. UNHCR advanced on the systematization and documentation of its work in Colombia over the past 20 years, as well as on institutional capacity-building interventions carried out to enhance the State’s capacity for prevention of internal displacement and protection of IDPs. However, implementing responsible disengagement strategies remained a challenge, with insufficient capacity and/or political will from other actors to take over some of the interventions previously supported by UNHCR.
Despite the slow process made in regards to the implementation of the peace agreement, UNHCR continued efforts throughout the year to ensure support to the Special Peace Jurisdiction and the Truth Commission and advocated for the mainstreaming of protection considerations into broader UN efforts. While solutions to internal displacement are pending, UNHCR succeeded in getting IDPs to be prioritized in several interagency projects funded by pooled mechanisms.

Unmet needs

UNHCR had insufficient funding to ensure the effective implementation of several aspects of its multi-year strategy, especially with regard to the support to IDP communities at risk of new displacement, and in terms of its operational response to the needs of arrivals from Venezuela, particularly in the sectors of shelter and health care, and particularly in underserved regions such as Vichada and Guainia. The eastern border departments reported smaller arrivals of Venezuelans but where critically lacking institutional capacity, leading to a proportionally weaker protection and assistance to people of concern.

Working environment

The peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is being implemented, with the former guerrilla having officially laid down their arms, and programmes for the reintegration of ex-combatants into communities being supported by the international community. Nonetheless, due to ongoing clashes with other armed groups and a reconfiguration of armed actors to vie for territorial control, forced displacement is expected to continue in some areas of the country, notably along the Pacific Coast and affecting mainly Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. The impact of the mid-2018 Presidential elections on the implementation of the peace agreement remains to be seen. UNHCR is mentioned in the Peace Agreement as part of the international taskforce to support the implementation of the chapter on protecting the rights of the victims of armed conflict.
A continuing deteriorating of the situation in Venezuela may lead to increased arrivals of returning Colombian refugees as well as people in need of international protection in 2018.
UNHCR will be implementing a multi-year multi-partner protection and solutions strategy in Colombia in 2018-2020, focusing on 1) strengthening Colombia’s asylum system and response capacity to the arrival of people in need of international protection, 2) protection of IDPs and prevention of new displacement, 3) durable solutions and 4) peace-building. In addition, UNHCR leads the Protection Cluster and co-leads the Interagency Border Group with IOM. UNHCR will work closely with the UN Verification Mission to ensure its awareness of protection and solutions issues, and continue to strengthen its partnerships with development actors to facilitate durable solutions for IDPs. In addition, UNHCR will increase its capacity-building efforts on asylum issues and supporting Colombia with its growing role as a receiving country for people in need of international protection.

Key priorities

In 2018, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Strengthening the capacities of the Government and civil society partners for the protection of and humanitarian assistance to people of concern. Protection and assistance will include advocacy for an improved asylum framework, increased border monitoring and cash-based assistance to vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers;
  • Contributing to peacebuilding, through support to the Special Peace Jurisdiction and the Truth Commission to ensure victims of forced displacement have access to these mechanisms;
  • Increasing IDP’s access to durable solutions, by supporting the Government with the legalization of informal settlements, providing technical assistance in strengthening public policies for solutions, and assisting selected communities with return, relocation, local integration and collective reparations processes;
  • Working with the State institutions, civil society actors and affected communities themselves to prevent new displacement, increase collective protection capacities and address some of the structural risk factors that hinder the prevention of displacement.
If funding is not made available for the entirety of the identified needs, UNHCR will have no capacity to monitor humanitarian needs and new displacements in some areas of Colombia; to ensure accommodation capacity for vulnerable arrivals in two key border crossings; to support durable solutions for refugees such as through business grants, language lessons, local integration studies and providing guidance for applicants taking the naturalization test; and, except for the 180 most vulnerable cases, asylum-seekers will not receive cash-based assistance to meet their basic needs.
Latest contributions
  • 14-NOV-2019
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 13-NOV-2019
  • 06-NOV-2019
  • 04-NOV-2019
  • 01-NOV-2019
  • Lithuania
  • 31-OCT-2019

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  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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  • 30-OCT-2019

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  • Philippines

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  • 29-OCT-2019