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The crisis and the response
Colombia has the world’s second highest number of IDPs: around five million have been displaced by conflict.
Denying the existence of an armed conflict, the Colombian government discourages international attention and rejects applicability of international humanitarian law.
Humanitarian space further diminished in 2009 despite government success retaking territory from insurgents and restoring some services.
Presidential Decree 001 forces humanitarian actors to coordinate activities through Acción Social, the state IDP agency.
FTS figures indicate increased funding to Colombia in 2009 but bilateral aid, notably from the US, remains less transparent.
The Colombian government mobilises greater resources to assist IDPs than external actors, reducing scope for international humanitarian advocacy.
There is a sense of fatigue among donors and humanitarian actors and lack of consensus on the best way to move forward.
Donors in Colombia were praised for their capacity for informed decision-making and timeliness of funding.
High level visits by the heads of ECHO and Swiss Development Cooperation and by the UN ERC helped keep some international attention on the conflict. However, most humanitarians were disappointed by the ERC’s failure to declare the crisis an armed conflict or hold the government accountable.
Donors tend to be reactive, not taking a long-term approach to the crisis and its root causes.
Key challenges and areas for improvement
Donors should be aware of the risks involved in the Colombian crisis getting forgotten as the government seeks to convey a perception of stability to encourage foreign investment.
Donors should seek to forge a coherent international approach to ensure access to vulnerable populations.
Donors should encourage Acción Social and other actors to systematically include affected populations in planning and decision-making.
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