Since 2003, RET has directly supported more than 68.121 direct participants in Colombia, 100% of them are vulnerable women and indirectly benefitted 340,605 participants and supported the opening of more than 403 facilities throughout 33 projects focused on Protection, Economic Growth & Development (Self-Reliance & livelihoods) Education, Migration & Mobility, Health & WASH and Shelter.
RET has been active in Colombia since 2003 providing programs to mitigate the effect of conflict and disasters on vulnerable young people and women. Throughout its projects, RET ensured the creation of sustainable livelihoods, access and permanence to education, 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. 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”, 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 main 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 has provided interventions in vulnerable areas, mostly affected by violence, disasters and by the influx of Venezuelan migrants, particularly: Choco, Catatumbo, under the Cauca, Caqueta, Nariño and Putumayo.
RET has been involved in drafting the “Guiding Principles on Forced Displacement” in collaboration with UNHCR; has been involved in the “National and Regional Coordination Platforms for Refugees and Migrants” from Venezuela. 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 is actively part of the Country Humanitarian Team (led by the UN), Protection Cluster (led by UNHCR), Early Recovery Cluster (led by UNDP), Board of Education (led by UNICEF), Interagency Group of Mixed Migratory Flows to address the crisis in Venezuela (led by UNHCR – IOM).
RET is currently implementing projects benefitting Venezuelan refugees and migrants responding to the needs of Venezuelans in border areas, and on the six main migratory routes, in addition to addressing the basic humanitarian and protection needs of new internally displaced people (IDP’s) in Colombia.
International Cooperation Agreement No. 1248 signed between the Unit for the Victims Assistance and Reparation and RET
This project strengthened alliances to facilitate the access services for the “victims of the internal armed conflict” (in exile) and the returnees in Colombia. The activities sought to create a direct impact on the stabilization and community integration of victims who are living abroad permanently, as well as to facilitate returnees repatriation to Colombia through:
- Technical assistance to consulates and organizations (9 consulates and 11 victims’ organizations abroad), through the support of proposals that strengthen community initiatives for victims. This activity aimed to support the implementation of projects and initiatives proposed by organizations and consulates targeting victims of the armed conflict living abroad. Three projects (related to web platforms) have been selected and benefited up to 10,000 victims.
To develop this component, RET designed a tool to enable the formulation and monitoring of the projects. This tool was used to establish an agreement with organizations, consulates, and embassies to support the projects’ planning and follow-up stages. RET became a strategic ally in developing these digital educational modules and programs, transforming a generation of young people into active and positive actors of social change.
- Supporting Returnees to Colombia (100 victims from abroad). This activity sought to provide support and accompaniment to victims returning from abroad (humanitarian assistance and support during their integration processes).
- Access to rights (direct assistance to victims abroad: Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador). RET facilitated access to rights for 100 victims living abroad through humanitarian aid, psychosocial care, legal advice, and the strengthening of capacities, in tandem with engaging them in the prevention of gender-based violence awareness and socio-cultural events in Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
This project, implemented between June 2020 and December 2020, was funded by the Unit for the Victims Assistance and Reparation and implemented by RET at a regional level.
Addressing the basic humanitarian and protection needs of new internally displaced people in Colombia
The project aims to provide humanitarian assistance and gender-based protection for displaced women, men, children and adolescents in various municipalities in the Catatumbo region in Colombia. RET’s humanitarian tailor-made response aims to bridge the gaps and respond to the real needs and challenges of particularly vulnerable women and children, in addition to the victims of forced displacement, thus will provide access to improved shelter conditions; provision of livelihoods opportunities to create more durable and sustainable impact, and providing timely assistance for the proper registration of victims in the government’s IDP registry. The project will focus on protection interventions such as psychosocial care for survivors of sexual abuse and gender-based violence; comprehensive assistance (legal, medical and protection) for victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence; the development of local mechanisms for GBV prevention and assistance; empowerment of the population in the exercising of their sexual and reproductive rights; and, the educational inclusion of displaced children and adolescents through the provision of schools inputs and supplies, infrastructure adaptation and the training of teachers.
This project, implemented between April 2019 and March 2020, was funded by The Government of Canada, the International Humanitarian Assistance division (IHA), and implemented by RET in Colombia.
Benefitting Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants
This 24-month project, supported by UNHCR, responds to the needs of the most vulnerable Venezuelans in border areas, in strategic points along the six main migratory routes that migrants use to travel into host cities. The project will strengthen “Safe Protection Routes ” that will operate through two mechanisms: the Integrated Support Spaces (EAI) and the RET Support and Orientation Points (PAO) located in urban, rural and border areas.
RET will provide interventions that will contribute to strengthening the humanitarian response and protection for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia by assisting vulnerable people in need of international protection through guidance and information about migratory options in Colombia and other destination countries and legal advice to regularize migratory status in Colombia with economic support for immigration proceedings. Venezuelan will receive psychosocial assistance (individual, family and group), will be provided with gender violence response kits in 20 local health centers in cooperation with UNFPA and support will be provided to access shelters for migrant women with newly arrived families including care for small children when migrant/refugee women look for an employment. Finally, and towards creating sustainable income generation sources to families, RET will provide migrant/refugee women with livelihoods opportunities, linking women who are heads of household to technical training processes, learning skilled trades and support processes to gain employment while they receive shelter support.
Coordination efforts with other NGOs, UN agencies and humanitarian organizations will be emphasized to avoid duplication and enhance service impact and complementarity. Likewise, RET will coordinate its response with the RETs offices in Ecuador and Peru, as part of the safe migratory routes that it promotes in South America.
This project, implemented between 2019 and 2021, was funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) and implemented by RET in Colombia.