Country Offices: Latin America and the Caribbean


Key Facts
  • Colombia is ranked 79 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 46.3 million.
  • Colombia has one of the highest number of landmine or unexploded ordnance accidents in the world – 200 civilians are killed every year.
  • According to the Government, there are 3.3 million Internally Displaced Persons in the country.
  • In 2009, some 435,320 people were affected by natural disasters. That number more than doubled in 2010.


Colombia is locked in a decades-long internal conflict involving armed groups, drug cartels and serious human rights violations. The violence has had a significantly
disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities (afro-Colombians and indigenous groups) living in areas difficult to access.

The newly elected Government and the humanitarian community face multiple challenges directly resulting from the protracted crisis. Seven per cent of the population is already internally displaced, and each year an additional 200,000 Colombians are forced to flee, 60 per cent of whom are women and children. Populations are becoming increasingly marginalized, and thousands face food shortages and are cut off from basic services such as health and education. Colombia is also susceptible to a range of natural hazards, including floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The protection of civilians remains a critical priority for OCHA. Violent campaigns against civilians are carried out by non-state armed groups, including new armed groups that emerged after the paramilitary demobilization (completed in 2006). Killings, disappearances, incidents of sexual and gender-based violence and forced recruitment are common.

Humanitarian access also remains a concern. Major constraints are related to the escalation of hostilities and military operations, the presence of landmines/unexploded ordnance, the lack of infrastructure, difficult geographical conditions, and direct threats and violence aimed at humanitarian personnel and goods.

Present in Colombia since 1999, OCHA provides
support to nine regional humanitarian teams, and to the 11 United Nations agencies and over 60 international NGOs that form the Colombia Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). While the implementation of humanitarian reform is well rooted in Colombia, there is still a need to bolster humanitarian action by formulating a common strategy, strengthening the cluster system and advocating more and more predictable funding.

In 2011, OCHA will support the HCT in preparing a common humanitarian framework for action to establish geographic and sectoral priorities, and target those most in need. The framework will lay the foundation for dialogue and interaction with the newly elected Government, donor community and key partners around humanitarian action. Particular attention will be given to the protection of civilians, humanitarian access, humanitarian civil-military coordination and contingency planning for complex emergencies and natural disasters. It will be used as a resource mobilization and advocacy tool.

A significant challenge will be ensuring the adequate visibility of humanitarian issues, as well as the proper articulation of humanitarian action with the Government’s development agenda. Therefore, the HCT will strive to consolidate a coordination mechanism to ensure periodic and open dialogue with national authorities at the highest level. This mechanism should also help reflect progress and challenges of the Common Humanitarian Framework.

OCHA will work to strengthen preparedness, and the response capacity of the cluster system and humanitarian teams on the ground. Humanitarian needs vary from province to province – some areas are post-conflict while others are experiencing full-blown violence. Therefore, preparedness and response capacities need to be context specific and adjusted to rapidly changing environments.

To ensure adequate and more predictable funding and resource mobilization, OCHA will continue to facilitate access to the under-funded window of the Central Emergency Response Fund and the locally managed Emergency Response Fund.


Key Facts
  • Haiti is ranked 145 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 10.1 million.
  • Two million people were affected by the January 2010 earthquake.
  • By the end of 2010, approximately 1.3 million displaced people were spread across more than 1,300 settlement sites.
  • The 2010 CAP sought $1.5 billion, of which $1 billion (72 per cent) was received.


Although great strides were made following the January 2010 earthquake, the requirement for strong coordination is expected to continue in 2011. More than 1.3 million people remain displaced, spread across 1,300 settlement sites. The number of humanitarian actors in Haiti has fluctuated greatly since the earthquake, but hundreds remain. Numerous humanitarian organizations continue to operate outside of formal coordination structures. Cluster leadership continues to be uneven.

The Haitian Government remains weakened by the losses it suffered in the earthquake. Although national bodies are increasingly involved in humanitarian coordination, they are not expected to assume consistent responsibilities in the near future. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will continue to provide valuable services through its large network of resources.

A substantial reduction in funding for humanitarian action has not yet been offset by a sufficient increase in funding for transition and development activities. This is in an environment where underdevelopment and poor access to health services were already prevalent.

In 2011, OCHA will further strengthen the coordination system through support to the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator (DSRSG/RC/HC). OCHA will help establish a more formalized Humanitarian Country Team, designed in accordance with a revised terms of reference to ensure more strategic decision-making. The forum will be informed by a prioritized set of issues generated by the Government, clusters and affected communities, and captured through improved communication with OCHA’s field presence.

OCHA will continue managing the Consolidated Appeal Process and Emergency Relief Response Fund (ERRF), and will seek to improve the evidence base for prioritizing humanitarian action. It will set clear criteria for project selection and work with partners on better-coordinated needs assessments. While the size of the 2011 ERRF is expected to be much smaller than during the height of the earthquake crisis, OCHA will improve monitoring systems and use the fund to reach out to more national organizations.

OCHA will coordinate international preparedness planning in collaboration with the Government and international and national partners. Contingency planning will continue to be expanded beyond hurricane scenarios. New plans will focus on a multi-hazard approach, including earthquakes and epidemics. The plans will include clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the Government, humanitarian actors and MINUSTAH, while adequately linking humanitarian action to transition and development programmes. OCHA will also provide technical support through the DSRSG/RC/HC to ensure humanitarian issues and principles are reflected in MINUSTAH planning and monitoring.

Consolidated information products will support decision-making and provide a basis for improved analysis. OCHA will ensure its services are prioritized, and that basic standards are provided with an eye towards minimum dependency and maximum transition.