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HI’s programme in Colombia runs demining, victim assistance and economic inclusion activities. It also provides rehabilitation and mental health support services to Venezuelan refugees living in extreme precarity.

In the humid region of the Inzá mountains, a deminer carries out demining operations in a contaminated area.

Actions in process

Colombia is a country heavily affected by armed violence. Many areas are contaminated by landmines and improvised explosive devices, posing a considerable risk to the population. To To help address the problem, HI is conducting humanitarian demining activities in five of the country's departments - Cauca, Meta, Tolima, Antioquia and Acandi - to enable the communities return to their land – and to their lives –  in safety.

At the same time, to minimise the number of accidents, HI is organising education sessions on the risks associated with mines and improvised explosive devices. This enables local people to identify dangerous situations and adopt the appropriate behaviour. HI also supports community projects aimed at securing livelihoods and developing the local economy. Finally, the programme facilitates access to rehabilitation care and psychosocial support for members of these communities, taking particular account of the needs of vulnerable groups such as older people, the young and people with disabilities.

Colombia hosts more than 1.8 million Venezuelan refugees. HI provides the host and refugee communities with psychosocial support and specialised rehabilitation care, including orthopaedic devices and technical aids for mobility, such as prostheses, wheelchairs and walking frame. In Bogotá, HI runs a project to support homeless refugee children, providing them with a place to stay, care and access to education. The programme also works for the economic inclusion of migrants, through access to services and financial aid.

Furthermore, HI educates and trains financial actors to better understand the needs of refugee populations and to take into account the financial risks they face. The teams organise activities to promote social cohesion between Venezuelan refugees and the host Colombian populations. HI also promotes the creation and development of community protection and support mechanisms.

Finally, HI supports women and girls in La Guajira, in the north of the country, to promote their access to health and sexual and reproductive services and rights. The teams run awareness-raising campaigns, and information workshops, and train community members in health and hygiene issues.


Situation of the country

Colombia is the second most heavily mined country in the world and for several years has also been hosting large numbers of Venezuelan refugees.

For decades, Colombia has been affected by a protracted conflict between the national government, the insurgent groups Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and a number of criminal organisations. In 2016, after more than 50 years of conflict, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the country's largest guerrilla group, the FARC. However, several other armed groups remain active across the country, causing a deterioration in the security situation in the most remote areas of the country, and civilians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing violence.

Colombia is now the second most heavily mined country in the world, just behind Afghanistan. Nearly half of the victims of mines and explosive devices are civilians, and many live in remote areas with no direct access to health centres or rehabilitation care. HI, accredited in July 2016 as one of four official humanitarian demining actors in the country, has since been conducting mine clearance and mine risk education operations.

In 2023, Colombia welcomed more than 1.8 million people from Venezuela. Colombia is  the Latin American country hosting the largest number of Venezuelans migrants, some of whom are living in extremely precarious conditions. There are now some 2.5 million people in need in the country. This is particularly the case for people with disabilities or vulnerable groups, such as single mothers. Despite efforts to integrate vulnerable populations and make society more inclusive, inequalities remain for people with disabilities, particularly in accessing  employment, especially in rural areas.

Number of HI staff: 314

Programmed opened in: 1998

Map of HI's interventions in Colombia

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© J. M. Vargas / HI