53 years

of armed conflict until the peace agreement signed in 2016


people in need of humanitarian assistance

including 1,900,000

Venezuelan migrants

The situation

Access to health: a key focus for peacekeeping


Nearly 70 years of conflict have left people in rural areas of Colombia in a situation of poverty and exclusion: access to health is one of the rights the most threatened by the permanent absence of the State in these communities particularly affected by the conflict.


In the isolated rural areas of Meta, Guaviare, Nariño, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Chocó, where the first healthcare center is sometimes several hours away (on foot or by canoe), access to healthcare services is extremely dangerous. The isolation of the inhabitants of these regions also accelerates the emergence of malnutrition and diseases due to poor water quality. The armed conflict has also contributed to a climate of mistrust and fear. This context is further aggravated by rape and violence against women, perpetrated by armed groups or within the family. The psychological impact of the conflict on the population is particularly strong.


Communities continue to demand the protection of their members from the threats of various armed groups and ordinary crime, but also the basic services to which they are entitled, including healthcare services. In November 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the FARC ending a 50-year-old conflict that reportedly killed more than 200,000 people, left 40,000 missing and displaced 6 million. Despite the peace agreement, the situation is still unstable. The difficulties encountered by the government in controlling the territories formerly under FARC control have led to territorial struggles by other armed groups. It is estimated that it will take at least 20 years before real respect for rights and improved living conditions for families living in areas of armed conflict are established.

The year 2018 was marked by a sharp increase in violence with 33,124 people forcibly displaced, an 83% increase compared to 2017. The armed conflict has also contributed to a climate of mistrust and fear (disappearances, murders of community leaders, threats, arbitrary detentions, etc.), which has hindered the organization of communities to claim their rights and develop.


In addition, the political and humanitarian situation in Venezuela has considerable repercussions in Colombia, the neighboring country hosting the largest Venezuelan migrant population. In three years, migration flows have risen from 39,000 to 1.9 million people, further destabilizing a health care system already severely weakened by armed conflict. This population, which has significant health (respiratory, malnutrition, etc.) and psychosocial needs related to displacement and violence, is currently only covered for life-threatening emergencies.


Our action

Since the peace agreement, Médecins du Monde has reoriented its activities in rural areas to cover the most acute humanitarian situations. In partnership with two other international NGOs, Médecins du Monde is deploying a rapid response team composed of doctors, psychologists, social workers and specialists in nutrition, hygiene & sanitation and child protection. The objective is to establish a situational diagnosis within 72 hours of an emergency, including mass displacements and population confinements.

Emphasis is placed on the protection of survivors of sexual violence, whom Médecins du Monde also supports to set up self-help groups and to ensure holistic and rights-respecting care in health facilities in Meta, Guaviare, Nariño, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Chocó.


The Venezuelan migration challenge has led Médecins du Monde to provide support to many migrants on the country’s southern border with Ecuador. This allows an intervention strategy involving the Venezuelan community itself to identify the populations most at risk (minors, victims of sexual and professional exploitation, etc.) and to ensure health and psychosocial care for transit migrants.


Finally, Médecins du Monde is partnering with several academic and civil society organizations working to promote greater respect for human rights and access to health in Colombia. This action takes place in particular through two platforms of actors:

Salud Paz, a network of medical and academic actors very active in defending the right to health for all; and

La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres, a collective that works more particularly on issues of access to health for women and in particular on the decriminalization of abortion.


Intervention areas (2019): Departments of Meta, Guaviare, Nariño, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Chocó

Our Impact

In 2018 :
  • 10,437
    people received services
  • 3,163
    medical consultations were provided
  • 745
    psychosocial interventions were carried out


Our partners




Doctors of the World begins to work with the Apaporis Indians.


Start of a program for children living on the streets. Closed in 2000.


Intervention in the Chocó department affected by the armed conflict. Closed in 2011.


End of the program with the Indians, intervention in the Meta department affected by the armed conflict.


Start of an intervention in Nariño.


Peace agreement signed with FARC and beginning of the adaptation of interventions


Launch of Rapid Response activities to post-peace agreement violence

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