Operation: Opération: Colombia



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Key Figures

2019 year-end figures
250,000  Colombian returnees, IDPs and members of vulnerable host communities received civil registration or identity documents issued by the Government with the support of UNHCR
112,000  people of concern received legal assistance
14,400  Venezuelans and Colombian returnees received shelter assistance
4,200  people of concern were trained on opportunities to access the labor market
2,500  newly displaced individuals received essential relief items and other humanitarian assistance to complement gaps in Government response capacity
1,400 families, including some 90 Colombian returnee households, received cash transfers or vouchers to cover essential needs such as domestic items or rental accommodation
2020 planning figures
>221,000 people of concern will be assisted with civil status registration and documentation
>87,000 people of concern will receive shelter support
27,000 Venezuelans and members of the host community will benefit from peaceful coexistence projects
5,000 IDPs and 35,000 arrivals from Venezuela (including returnees) will receive legal assistance
15 projects supporting livelihood capacities of IDPs will be defined and implemented

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2019 10,157,456
2018 9,015,122
2017 7,747,365


[["Refugees",646],["Asylum-seekers",9119],["IDPs",7976412],["Returned refugees",31],["Stateless",11],["Others of concern",400000],["Venezuelans displaced abroad",1771237]]
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2019 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[31.48831469,29.10286757,34.12837795,49.73082189,96.63752346000001,83.73755],"expenditure":[14.342493130000001,16.34013628,22.89252664,38.23726096,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[0.97474715,2.23460232,12.571882460000001,32.76755501,85.54186920000001,69.19662222],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[30.51356754,26.86826525,21.55649549,16.96326688,11.09565426,14.540927779999999]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[0.57263632,1.97688292,11.02916958,29.599248600000003,null,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[13.76985681,14.36325336,11.86335706,8.63801236,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020

Operational context

The operation provided assistance to over 756,000 Venezuelans, Colombian returnees, internally displaced people and members of host communities in 2019.
Notwithstanding the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC, the presence of other illegal armed actors and territorial disputes caused significant new displacement, child recruitment and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially along the Pacific Coast and the Venezuelan border.

 The Government had insufficient capacity to identify and provide documentation and access to services to returnees.

UNHCR co-led the regional inter-agency coordination platform (R4V) for refugees and migrants from Venezuela together with IOM for of over 50 partners; and the protection cluster with the Norwegian Refugee Council, coordinating the response for the situation of internally displaced population.

Population trends

The Colombian Government reported nearly 1.8 million Venezuelans in Colombia by the end of 2019, 56% of whom did not have regular status.
According to official data, more than 81,800 Colombians were newly displaced internally in 2019, bringing the total amount to more than 465,000 since the signing of the Peace Agreement. Some 17,000 people were affected by confinement due to the presence of armed actors, an increasingly widespread phenomenon.
The number of asylum claims in 2019 rose to over 14,000, filed mainly by Venezuelans. UNHCR supported national efforts to strengthen the processing capacity of asylum requests.
An estimated 500,000 Colombians have returned from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2017.


  • 39,000 children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents were supported with birth registration to enable them to obtain Colombian nationality, protecting them from statelessness.
  • Around 2,400 government officials and partners were trained on child protection, SGBV prevention and response as well as protection and solutions for ethnic communities.
  • The Regional Safe Spaces Network expanded to include over 40 partners, who aided nearly 1,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and children-at-risk.
  • UNHCR expanded its field operations through additional presence in Cali and Bogotá, and interventions in seven new departments.
  • Transitional justice mechanisms set up under the Peace Agreement were strengthened, with over 100 community leaders and officials trained with UNHCR support to ensure forced displacement crimes were incorporated in the work of these institutions.

Unmet needs

The Colombia operation was only 83% funded in 2019, with the lack of funding limiting the operation's capacity to respond in the following ways:
  • 4,500 vulnerable Venezuelans were left without access to safe shelter and comprehensive assistance upon arrival in Colombia at the Integrated Assistance Centre in Maicao (La Guajira).
  • A planned mother-and-child safe shelter in Riohacha could not open, affecting 250 Venezuelan women.
  • Comprehensive responses – including safe shelters - for survivors of SGBV were not provided in six key provinces.
  • UNHCR could only procure one-quarter of the required reproductive and sexual health items for people of concern.
  • Despite the disproportionately large number of Venezuelans with vulnerabilities in Colombia, limited resources were available for cash transfers.
  • Inadequate resources affected data collection and the implementation of reintegration programmes for Colombian returnees.

Working environment

The arrival of increasingly vulnerable people of concern from Venezuela to Colombia and other countries in the region has placed considerable pressure on the infrastructure for basic services and on host communities. UNHCR and IOM co-lead the Inter-Agency Mixed Migration Group (GIFMM), which coordinates the interagency operational and protection response to support the Government’s efforts to address the needs of new arrivals and their host communities.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s historic Peace Accord continues to be implemented while facing many challenges, including the presence of other armed groups in several key regions. Protection and humanitarian challenges continue in border areas and along the Pacific Coast, including a continued high number of homicides targeting community leaders, peasants and youth; continued recruitment and use of children; stigmatization of communities and social organizations; sexual violence and use of personal mines and unexploded ordnance. The Office will continue to advocate for the maintenance of the strong legal framework for IDPs and provide support to the implementation of the Peace Accord as part of the international support group.
The 2018-2020 multi-year multi-partner (MYMP) strategy continues to be the overall framework for UNHCR’s engagement in Colombia and will continue to be adapted to reflect the mixed nature of UNHCR’s response in the country.

Key Priorities

In 2019, under the Venezuela situation response, UNHCR will continue to:
  • Lead – with IOM – the interagency coordination arrangements for analysis, response and coordination with the authorities.
  • Promote access to the territory, including through border and protection monitoring and an anti-xenophobia campaign.
  • Support registration and documentation of people of concern, ensure access to information and orientation as well as legal assistance.
  • Provide basic humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people of concern, including through cash based interventions, shelter, access to health care and other essential services, child protection and SGBV prevention.
  • Promote peaceful coexistence through projects benefiting Venezuelan refugees and migrants, returning Colombians and host communities alike.
  • Strengthen cross border and regional coordination and reinforce the capacity of local authorities, civil society and national NGOs in terms of international protection responses.
Under the IDP programme, UNHCR will continue to:
  • Advocate for the protection of IDPs and prevention of new displacement, focusing on ethnic communities, SGBV prevention and response as well as child protection.
  • Work on durable solutions for IDPs through support to the legalization of prioritized informal peri-urban settlements.
  • Support the implementation of the peace agreement through advocacy for the respect of the rights of victims (including IDPs) as well as support to the Special Peace Jurisdiction and the Truth Commission.
Latest contributions
  • 25-NOV-2020
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 24-NOV-2020
  • 23-NOV-2020
    Saudi Arabia

    private donors

  • 19-NOV-2020
  • 18-NOV-2020
  • Japan

    private donors

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 17-NOV-2020
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    private donors

  • 16-NOV-2020
  • 13-NOV-2020
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    private donors

  • Hungary
  • United States of America

    private donors

  • 12-NOV-2020
  • Japan

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  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • 11-NOV-2020
  • Argentina
  • 10-NOV-2020
    United States of America

    private donors