The 40-year-old internal armed conflict in Colombia has triggered
one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world,
with an average of 778 people displaced every day, and a total of
between 1.6 to 2.8 million IDPs over the past ten years. Mass fumigations
continue to lead not only to displacement, but also to a number
of violations of International Humanitarian Law and human rights.
In addition, an undetermined number of communities remain blocked
due to ‘armed strikes’ and blockades by illegal armed
groups. The presence of unexploded ordinance in more than 50 percent
of the country and the on- going use of antipersonnel mines by illegal
armed groups, which continue to forcibly recruit children, are additional
problems. Between 7,000 and 14,000 children are currently in guerrilla
and paramilitary groups, according to UNICEF estimates.
Currently, there is an on-going peace process with the paramilitaries,
which has led to the demobilization of some 9,000 combatants. There
are also initial talks planned with guerrilla groups that could
pave the way for humanitarian agreements directly benefiting the
civilian population. However, the holding of presidential and Congressional
elections in 2006 could lead to an increase in violence.
Serious challenges lie ahead for the UN system and it should continue
to strengthen its capacity to improve humanitarian access to communities
affected by the internal armed conflict. Its information management
capacity also needs expansion to ensure the development of updated,
accurate and verifiable information on humanitarian indicators in
the country, thus enhancing the UN system’s coordination capacity
in joint planning.
The expanded presence of OCHA in seven of the most important cities
in Colombia will allow a more in-depth analysis of the humanitarian
situation along with further strengthening of coordination structures.
Therefore, one of the greatest challenges that OCHA will face at
local, departmental and national levels will be to maintain, with
the same level of success as in previous years, its information,
coordination support and advocacy capacities to better monitor humanitarian
projects and programs. The OCHA office will continue to participate
in inter-institutional structures such as the Technical Secretariat
of the G-24 and the London-Cartagena Commission, which constitutes
an excellent forum for advocacy activities.
In 2006, OCHA will continue to provide coordination support to
the Humanitarian Coordinator in Colombia via a central office in
Bogotá, three field offices and three satellite offices strategically
located throughout the country, in cooperation with national, departmental
and local governments, UN agencies and the humanitarian community
in general. OCHA will continue to facilitate the coordination amongst
UN agencies and other humanitarian actors, maintain its status as
facilitator of coordination of the UN agencies on humanitarian issues,
and lend support to UNHCR as lead agency on IDPs coordination issues.
In 2006, OCHA’s objectives are to: strengthen and further
improve the coordination structures and mechanisms involving the
UN system, NGOs, public institutions, and civil society in general
in order to better respond to the challenges posed by the growing
humanitarian crisis; further improve the quantity and quality of
the information produced by the Humanitarian Situation Room; improve
the UN capacity to promote humanitarian topics/principles at national,
departmental and local levels through a better use of existing coordination
and information tools; and assist in improving the response capacity
to natural disasters of United Nations agencies.
- Provide support to the activities of the Humanitarian Coordinator
at the national, departmental and local levels.
- Support the mobilization of human, technical and financial
resources in order to facilitate the role of the United Nations
System with regards to the humanitarian crisis.
- Create and maintain a central geo-referenced information system
to compile information on humanitarian events, organizations,
projects and activities in Colombia, including natural disasters,
and to monitor risk situations related to natural disasters.
- Support the creation of the UNS integral response plan and
other relevant documents and support the articulation of these
with national structures.
- Participate in the joint United Nations System structures (UNETE)
in order to manage emergencies related to natural events.
- Number and percentage of inter-agency and inter-institutional
field missions leading to a unified assessment of the humanitarian
- Number and percentage of designed and updated contingency plans
for the management of emergencies.
- A financial monitoring mechanism, in the context of the Humanitarian
Action Plan, established, designed and implemented by May 2006.
- Number of joint missions with government entities to the field
- Amount and percentage of funding received by donors in response
to the integral response plan.
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Since 1986, Haitians have experienced steady and uninterrupted economic
and social degradation coupled with ever increasing violence. While
the arrival of the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) in June 2004
had a positive impact on security, social tensions remain high and
violence stubbornly threatens, on the eve of crucial elections,
to keep Haitians in their accustomed state of deprivation and misery.
Humanitarian emergencies triggered by civil strife or natural catastrophes
have been affecting Haiti since its independence and there is little
evidence that this trend will change quickly. Most importantly,
these catastrophes occur within a wider context of structural disaster:
Haiti’s social and economic indicators show that the majority
of Haitians continue to endure chronic poverty and humanitarian
needs, with no prospect of change in 2006.
The recurrent expulsions and alleged intimidation of thousands
of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic suggest that some 200,000
people are living in a hostage-like situation under conditions that
surely demand humanitarian intervention and are the basis of population
displacement and International Humanitarian Law and human rights
violations. Additionally of concern are the activities of illegal
armed groups in several slums of Port-au-Prince.
This context, to which is added the approaching elections and
constant socio-political turmoil, brings the country to a crucial
crossroads, presenting serious challenges to the United Nations
system as well as to the international community in general. The
United Nations System should continue to strengthen its capacity
and ability to access the Haitian population threatened by gangs
and political violence, chronic poverty and the permanent menace
of natural disasters. In this context, one of the main gaps that
the UN and the humanitarian community face in Haiti is the availability
of reliable humanitarian information, its dissemination and its
use as an important and vital coordination tool. The specific priority
of OCHA Haiti is to ensure that humanitarian actors, at both the
operational and strategic level, have access to the benefits of
information management tools to assess, plan, deliver, coordinate
and monitor humanitarian assistance in Haiti, therefore supporting
efforts for a coordinated and adequate response to the recurrent
humanitarian crisis in the country.
In 2005, OCHA started to build up a Humanitarian Information Management
Network (HIMN) following the demand of the humanitarian community
in Haiti to meet recognized needs through a collaborative information
exchange. HIMN’s aim is to ensure that individuals and organizations,
at both the operational and strategic level, can access information
management tools to assess, plan, coordinate, deliver, and monitor
humanitarian assistance. In 2006, OCHA will continue to develop
the network’s activities based on the results of the 2002
Symposium on Best Practises in Humanitarian Information Exchange,
the completed independent evaluation of HICs and the last Latin
American and Caribbean Workshop on Humanitarian Information Management.
In this way, OCHA will provide coordination support to the Humanitarian
Coordinator (HC) in Haiti, working within the operational framework
of the Humanitarian and Development Coordination Section (HDCS)
of the MINUSTAH. As the transition phase progresses, hopefully accompanied
by improved access to populations in need and the implementation
of quick impact projects, it is envisaged that a thoroughly operational
humanitarian information system will be in place by the end of 2006,
allowing a smooth handover to UNDP.
In 2006, OCHA’s key objectives are to: continue to provide
coordination support to the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), namely
through an improved information management system; conclude the
setting up of a Humanitarian Information Management Network (HIMN);
and improve information sharing amongst the Humanitarian and Development
Coordination Section (HDCS) of MINUSTAH, UN agencies, NGOs and other
- Further use of humanitarian information management as a coordination
tool by strengthening existing humanitarian coordination mechanisms/
- Strengthen the humanitarian information management capacity
of UN agencies, MINUSTAH Regional Offices, NGOs and local government.
- Increase the number and quality of humanitarian information
products updated and disseminated regularly to the humanitarian
- Organize two workshops on information management targeting
a total of 100 participants.
- Establish a common monitoring mechanism by the end of the first
quarter of 2006, with the participation of MINUSTAH, UN agencies
and major NGOs.
- Build partnerships with local, regional and international organizations
on data collection, processing and dissemination which will include:
monthly and weekly Humanitarian Situation reports disseminated
through HIMN website, ReliefWeb, hardcopy and mailing lists; one
new Humanitarian Bulletin designed and shared among of UN agencies
and humanitarian actors; a humanitarian Orientation Pack designed
and disseminated to UN agencies and humanitarian actors; a Haiti
Humanitarian Directory, published online and printed for distribution
with updated information every six months; and a set of thematic
maps and Humanitarian Situation Maps.
- Number and percent of UN agencies and other humanitarian actors
utilizing humanitarian information/data in their programs/strategies.
- Percentage of the 100 participants who found the two workshops
useful and a skill-building exercise with a direct impact on their
information management activities.
- Through a user’s survey, percentage of UN agencies, NGOs
and other humanitarian actors who judge OCHA’s information
products of excellent quality and a good added value to their
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Regional Office for Latin America and the
Over the past decades, this region has experienced a series of devastating
disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the El Salvador earthquakes
in 2001 and the 2004 - 2005 tropical storm season in the Caribbean
which had a record number of strong hurricanes (Ivan, Dennis, Stan,
Katrina, Wilma). Over 3,000 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than
5.0 on the Richter scale were registered between 1900 and 1979 and
of the 405 tsunamis recorded in the Pacific Basin between 1900 and
1983, 61 originated off the west coast of Latin America. Currently,
one third of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
is dangerously exposed to natural catastrophes.
2005 was a distinctly above-average hurricane season. In total,
22 tropical storms were recorded in the Atlantic; 12 of them became
hurricanes and six of those were major hurricanes. The 2004-2005
hurricanes are directly responsible for the deaths of more than
6,000 people, with several million people affected and at least
US$ 100 billion in economic losses.
Alongside natural disasters is the potential for emergencies.
Despite 20 years of democratic governance, many countries in this
region face possible crises due to socio-economic inequality, serious
poverty, particularly in regard to indigenous populations and stagnating
economies. The potential for socio-political instability, with its
concomitant humanitarian impact requires careful monitoring and,
when appropriate, contingency planning.
The region’s humanitarian problems often combine social
unrest, population displacement and growing disaster vulnerabilities.
Consequently, humanitarian crises could have both national and regional
One of the main challenges for the coming year will be OCHA’s
capacity to manage humanitarian information in the region, one of
the core functions of the Regional Office. An appropriate humanitarian
information system will allow OCHA to increase its credibility among
the different partners in the region and provide a solid base for
orienting policies and strategies for disaster response preparedness
OCHA’s objectives for 2006 are to: improve emergency preparedness,
coordination mechanisms and response for natural disasters and other
humanitarian issues at the regional and national levels; strengthen
systems for the provision of timely and quality information in support
of humanitarian decision making and response; enhance the level
of advocacy for and awareness of human rights, international humanitarian
law and humanitarian principles and their application in the region;
and improve clarity on the relationship between humanitarian actors
and the military.
- Develop a toolbox for preparedness activities in key priority
countries, demonstrating the added value of an OCHA/RDRA presence
in disaster prone regions.
- Promote dialogue, regional alliances or agreement and sharing
of know-how and resources between the United Nations, governments
and regional institutions such as the Centre for the Coordination
of Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC)
and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA).
- Establish, in selected countries, a permanent OCHA national
focal point in coordination with UN Disaster Management Teams
(UNDMT) and UN Emergency Technical Teams (UNETT) to support the
emergency preparedness process as well as for information management.
- Develop a regional information management system with the support
of AIMB to facilitate the flow of information on natural disasters
and humanitarian situations in the countries of the region.
- Establish an advocacy strategy aimed at highlighting the trends
of the region.
- Carry out, in close cooperation with RCs/HCs in the countries
concerned, humanitarian advocacy aiming at the promotion and respect
of basic humanitarian principles as well as protection and assistance
of vulnerable groups affected by emergencies and conflicts.
- Provide emergency preparedness training to national authorities
and relevant actors in selected countries in order to integrate
and coordinate the international and national relief and response
- Establish mechanisms for early warning linked with early action
plans in coordination with Risk, Emergency and Disaster for Latin
America and the Caribbean (RED-LAC), AIMB, UNDMT and national
authorities in selected countries.
- Support the addressing of humanitarian issues within the UN
structure of thematic groups and task forces for better targeting
of UN programmes to high-risk groups.
- Provide Emergency Preparedness and Response training to government
and NGO staff at least twice in central areas and once in the
high-risk districts, and develop regular coordination with government
counterparts for early warning systems and collaboration in preparedness
- In coordination with headquarters, organize a meeting with
donors to fund regional and national OCHA projects.
- Number of countries with OCHA National Focal Points for emergency
preparedness and information management.
- Number of UN staff, government officials and NGOs trained in
the promotion and respect of basic humanitarian principles and
on emergency preparedness and response.
- Number of countries with an established linkage with early
warning and early action.
- Sufficient funds are mobilized for 2006 RO Panama budget.
RO - LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
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