Sitemap x

the forgotten crisis region


Colombia has been suffering from a brutal civil war for close to 50 years

The battles between government troops, rebels, paramilitary forces, and criminal gangs have resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe with

220,000 dead
25,000 people missing
27,000 kidnappings and
5.7 million displaced persons.

The victims are the indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians and smallholder farmers, trade unionists and human rights activists.


Population45,7 million inhabitants (2013)
Official languageSpanish
Life expectancy75 years
GDP per capita11,000 US dollars (2012)
Quibdó Bogotá vIsrael rAfghanistan

Abraham Doblado - ICRC Delegate Colombia


Abraham Doblado (* 1980) grew up in Geneva, and his parents come from Spain. He has managed the ICRC office in the Colombian jungle city Quibdó, in the Chocó department, since 2012. The region that borders Panama is characterized by civil war.

vIsrael rAfghanistan

Local people

vIsrael rAfghanistan

ICRC staff members Hector Cordoba and Lorena Mosquera are accompanying Abraham Doblado on his assignments in the jungle area of the Chocó district. Luisa Marmolesco is a village elder and Hector Tunay teaches in a remote hamlet. Manuela Trellez runs a small restaurant in Quibdó. They describe their worries and wishes in the heart of this forgotten crisis region.

What do you have in your pocket?

What are you proud of?

When are you happy?

What do you worry about?

How do you imagine your children’s future?

The conflict

The armed conflict between guerrilla organizations – such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejército de Liberación (ELN) – and the state and right-wing paramilitaries is based on an unequal distribution of land in Colombia.

In the course of the civil war, the rebels financed themselves increasingly via the drugs trade and kidnappings, the crimes of the paramilitaries were sometimes carried out in consultation or with the tacit consent of the landowners and the army.

The FARC and ELN were weakened substantially under the former government of Álvaro Uribe. The paramilitaries are also now deemed to have been disarmed. However, the fighters still operate as armed groups, frequently on behalf of agricultural companies or the drug barons.

Timeline of major events

1965 - 1966 Outbreak of civil war Outbreak of civil war
Establishment of the Marxist guerrilla organization “Ejército de Liberación Nacional” (ELN), and creation of the guerrilla organization “Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia” (FARC).
1980 Rise of the drug cartels Rise of the drug cartels
n the course of the 1980s the drugs trade flourished.
1984 Colombia in a state of emergency Colombia in a state of emergency
Ceasefire agreement between the government, FARC, ELN and M-19. Following the murder of the minister of justice, the country was placed in a state of emergency, and campaigns against drug trafficking, especially the Medellín cartel, were stepped up.
2002 Massacre in the Chocó department Massacre in the Chocó department
Massacre carried out by the FARC and paramilitaries leave 117 dead in Chocó. 44 of them were children, who were used as a human shield.
2005 Amnesty for paramilitaries Amnesty for paramilitaries
A new law is considered to be a far-reaching amnesty for members of extreme right-wing death squadrons and paramilitary groups. In the meantime, however, new armed groups known as criminal gangs (“bandas criminales”, Bacrim) are viewed as the heirs of the paramilitaries.
2008 Release of politician Ingrid Betancourt Release of politician Ingrid Betancourt
The population now begins to protest visibly against the activities of the FARC. Hundreds and thousands protest in Bogotá in February against the FARC and call for the release of around 700 hostages.
2009 - 2012 Peace demonstrations Peace demonstrations
Peaceful demonstrations, which call for an end to the violence and a peaceful solution to the conflict, are spreading throughout the country.
2012 Start of peace talks on Cuba Start of peace talks on Cuba
The FARC announces that it will no longer take hostages as a way of raising money. However, this declaration remains lip service. People continue to be kidnapped.


Colombia stands on the threshold to peace. Since November 2012 negotiations have been taking place again between the government and the guerrillas for the first time in decades.

vIsrael rAfghanistan
People who have to leave their land, who have to abandon everything. The land is directly connected to their culture, in particular for the indigenous population. Being driven out of their villages is one of the main problems here.
Abraham Doblado, ICRC Delegate in Colombia
  Afghanistan Colombia Israel Dem. Rep. of Congo Switzerland
Person - Question