Escalating conflict between armed groups in the rural Roberto Payán municipality, in western Colombia’s Nariño department, has forced more than 1,500 people to flee their homes. People from the Unión de Cuenca community council area are now living in unacceptable conditions in schools and other buildings, which are not equipped to safely house them. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on regional and national authorities to immediately increase protection for these people and many others in the area who have been repeatedly impacted by violence in recent months.
On May 13, MSF launched a project in Roberto Payán to address some of the needs of the community. Our team found that many of those displaced were experiencing mental health issues. The trauma of their displacement has been compounded by food shortages; a lack of personal hygiene items; and overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions in makeshift shelters.