RET has been active in Colombia since 2003 providing programs to mitigate the effect of conflict and disasters on vulnerable young people and women. Through the implementation of projects, RET ensures the creation of sustainable livelihoods, access and permanence to education, training, psychosocial assistance, recovery of schools affected by disasters, prevention of accidents with anti-personnel mines, among others.
RET has also implemented projects preventing recruitment of child soldiers and providing protection to young people and women displaced internally (IDPs) as well as externally (refugees) by Colombia’s long-standing armed conflict. Moreover, RET’s actions in Colombia in recent years have had greater emphasis on supporting the development of public education policies, to improve educational quality and inclusion in the formal education system and strengthening the educational capacities in emergencies of Secretaries of Education and educational institutions. RET has been present in the region of Catatumbo since early 2019 and attended to the basic humanitarian and protection needs of new internally displaced people in that zone.
After four years of Peace Dialogues and with the signing of the Agreement, humanitarian relief was expected in many regions hit by violence; however, the deterioration of the internal humanitarian situation in Colombia is reflected in more than 5.1 million people facing multi-dimensional adversities.
Despite some significant progress, some regions are still affected by armed conflict and violence, subsequently causing forced displacement as well as an increase of homicides against social leaders and human rights activists. In 2019, a total of 2,283 people were displaced following 5 group displacement events (ACNUR 2019). It is estimated that 7.7 million people have been victims of forced internal displacement in Colombia since the beginning of the armed conflict.
RET is currently assessing the humanitarian needs of vulnerable communities, where internal forced displacement of the communities is occurring. RET is involved in conversations about the challenges in assisting displaced persons and drafting the Guiding Principles on Forced Displacement in collaboration with UNHCR. RET also participates in meetings with leaders of displaced persons, municipal representatives and the United Nations agencies (UHNCR, IOM, UNICEF) to discuss the prospects of the delicate situation of forced displacement that affects the region of Catatumbo.
Additionally, RET is involved in the framework of the Protection Cluster (in collaboration with UNHCR), where support has been provided for the management of the Delegate Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights.
Regarding the situation in Venezuela and the important influx of migrants in Colombia, RET participates in the National and Regional Coordination Platforms for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela. RET aims to put an action mechanism in place in coordination with local authorities and other NGOs, and takes part in a joint dialogue with various entities within the Colombian government Ombudsmen about the current situation, with a view to applying its long-standing expertise working with internally displaced Colombians and refugees to the complex current situation including internal displacement and important migratory flows in the country.