ASG Catherine Bragg ends visit to Colombia

13 June, 2011
Due to frequent fighting in the South, near the border with Ecuador, the local Awa people have been repeatedly displaced over the past three years. Credit: MH Verney
Due to frequent fighting in the South, near the border with Ecuador, the local Awa people have been repeatedly displaced over the past three years. Credit: MH Verney

ASG Catherine Bragg yesterday completed her five-day mission to Colombia. During the visit, she met with national and local authorities, humanitarian partners and with some of the most vulnerable people, including Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and internally displaced persons, affected by both the recent floods and regional armed conflict.

Ms Bragg traveled to Tumaco in Nariño Department where she met national, indigenous and traditional community authorities, as well as national and international humanitarian partners. “I am disturbed that human rights violations, use of landmines, child recruitment by armed groups, and attacks against vulnerable communities all remain serious problems in some parts of Colombia,” she said.

During her visit to Colombia, Ms. Bragg underscored the need for protection and assistance for vulnerable communities. She discussed the humanitarian situation with ministers and national and local authorities and noted the impressive response provided by the Colombian authorities, including through the Calamity Fund and flood response plan that is supported by international partners.

On June 10 2011, President Juan Manuel Santos signed Colombia’s new Victims and Land Restitution Law, which aims to restore lands to Colombians who have been driven from their homes by violence and provide reparations to victims of human rights violations. Ms. Bragg was hopeful this historical move will address some of the needs of vulnerable communities and emphasized that the UN will play a key role in supporting the Government in implementing the law.

Ms. Bragg also accompanied UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his visit to flood-affected areas near Cartagena in Bolivar Department. Ms. Bragg reiterated the complementary support the UN and its partners have provided to the people and the Government of Colombia in addressing humanitarian needs during the floods, which affected 612,873 people between April and May 2011. The total number of people affected by floods since April 2010 is 3.5 million.

“Humanitarian partners stand ready to work side by side with the Government of Colombia to improve information management on humanitarian gaps and work on preparedness to mitigate the effects of natural disasters,” emphasized Ms. Bragg. 

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