Despite historic agreement, millions in need of humanitarian assistance
BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA – Ahead of a national referendum on a historic peace agreement between the government of Colombia and the FARC that was signed today, the global organization Mercy Corps urges international donors to continue investing to support humanitarian relief efforts in Colombia. After fifty-two years of conflict there are 6.9 million Colombians internally displaced, the highest number in the world.
“We often see spikes in violence, new displacement of civilians and increased humanitarian needs following a peace agreement,” says Provash Budden, Colombia Country Director for Mercy Corps. “Though the peace agreement is positive, narcotrafficking, extortion and localized crime are still major drivers of displacement. But humanitarian funding often dries up as soon as the agreement ink has dried. It is imperative that donors like the United States, the European Union and UN continue investing to meet persistent and any new needs.”
In the department of Putumayo, Mercy Corps found that nearly half of the population has only limited access to adequate food, hygiene and shelter. The situation is the same in numerous pockets of Colombia. Mercy Corps has helped meet the immediate needs of more than 18,000 people across the country, in addition to providing legal assistance, psychosocial support and opportunities for generating income.
Mercy Corps also calls for the continued protection of youth, as thousands of young Colombians remain at risk of experiencing or perpetrating violence after a peace deal is signed. Of the thousands of child soldiers fighting for urban militias and other armed forces in Colombia, not all will be demobilized through the agreement with the FARC.
“The peace agreement represents monumental progress and optimism for a country trapped in five decades of conflict,” says Budden. “Peace in Colombia can serve as an example for the world, especially if the international community in partnership with the government of Colombia lays the groundwork today for lasting peace.”
Mercy Corps has worked in Colombia since 2005 to connect people affected by armed conflict with the resources needed to rebuild their lives. The organization provides humanitarian assistance, works in schools to reduce youth vulnerabilities to violence and supports land titling, agricultural value chains and natural resource management.
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