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OVERVIEW of Colombia | Humanitarian situation | Persecuted populations | Countries of asylum Information | Return to Colombia | Essential sources | News | Ethno-specific organizations and associations | Cultural profiles

OVERVIEW of Colombia

Capital: Bogotá
Area: 1,138,910 km²
Population: 43,593,035 (2006 estimate)
Language(s): Spanish
Religion(s): Roman Catholic – 90%, others – 10%
Ethnic Group(s): Mestizo – 58%, white – 20%, mulatto – 14%, black – 4%, black-Amerindian – 3%, Amerindian – 1%

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Humanitarian situation

“Violence continues to uproot thousands of people in Colombia, despite a peace agreement signed last November [2017] between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Fighting for territorial control in the Colombian Pacific Coast region among irregular armed groups has displaced 3,549 people (913 families) since the beginning of 2017, according to local authorities. Last year, UNHCR recorded 11,363 people (3,068 families) displaced by violence in the same areas”. See, Forced displacement growing in Colombia despite peace agreement, [accessed March 12, 2018].

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Persecuted populations

A large number of Colombians have a well-founded fear of persecution, and require protection due to threats to their lives, safety, or freedom by generalized violence or other conditions. Because of the dynamics and rapid evolvement of the conflict, difficulty arises in identifying definite categories of people who are in more need of international protection than others. Nevertheless there are some groups within the population that are at greater risk of being targeted.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Colombia, 27 May 2010, HCR/EG/COL/10/2, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018]

  • Present and former members and supporters of one of the parties to the conflict
  • Local and regional government authorities
  • Judges and other persons involved in the administration of justice
  • Civil Society and human rights activists
  • Journalists and other media professionals
  • Trade union leaders
  • Teachers, university professors and college students
  • Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians
  • Women with certain profiles – indigenous and Afro-Colombian women are often victims, facing discrimination due to their race, ethnicity and frequently due to their indigence. This is exacerbated by the conflict.
  • Children with certain profiles: children forcibly conscripted by guerrillas or paramilitaries are reportedly used as front line combatants to place mines and explosives, or to perform other dangerous military tasks.
  • Marginalized social groups: mistreatment has been reported against LGTBI individuals and persons with HIV/AIDS. Sex workers have allegedly been carried away by illegal armed groups.

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Countries of asylum Information

UNHCR Fact Sheet about Colombia’s refugee and asylum population locations. [accessed 20 February 2018]

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Return to Colombia

Due to the on-going conflict in Colombia, it is not safe for refugees to return. Durable solutions remain a significant option for refugees from Colombia. Below are further readings and UNHCR’s position regarding refugees’ potential to return to Colombia.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Comprehensive Solutions for Colombian Refugees in Latin America, June 2016, Research Paper No. 279, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The end of the road? A review of UNHCR’s role in the return and reintegration of internally displaced populations. 1 July 2010, PDES/2010/09, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

IRIN, Border closures strand migrants in Colombia, 27 May 2016, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

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Essential sources

United States Department of Labor, 2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor – Colombia, 30 September 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalists Killed in 2017 – Motive Confirmed: María Efigenia Vásquez Astudillo, 31 December 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR concern at increasing murders of local leaders in Colombia, 17 November 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

IRIN, Colombia’s Venezuela problem, 1 December 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018 – Colombia, 18 January 2018, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

Amnesty International, Colombia: Recent collective displacements and violence indicate the lack of non-repetition guarantees for Chocó’s Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities, 16 August 2017, ASA 25/6500/2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

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UN News Service, In Colombia, UN political chief urges parties to ‘stay the course’ set out in peace accord, 16 November 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

UN News Service, Colombia: UN-backed team ambushed; one wounded in attack, 7 August 2017, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018].

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Ethno-specific organizations and associations

Disclaimer: RSTP is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse these organizations. Their activities are not necessarily those of RSTP.

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Cultural profiles [accessed March 12, 2018].

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