This information is excerpted from MSF’s 2017 International Activity Report.
In 2017, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) carried out emergency interventions and continued to assist victims of violence in Colombia.
Civilians are trapped in a spiral of violence despite the peace agreement between the FARC rebel group and the government. Significant parts of Colombian territory are still disputed by criminal organizations, former FARC combatants who have refused to demobilize, and ELN guerillas.
MSF’s emergency team intervened to assist displaced people in Chocó, Antioquia, Guaviare, and Caquetá. After a landslide in Mocoa, Putumayo, that killed around 300 people and left hundreds missing, teams supported the local hospital and offered primary health care.
MSF continued to run its mental health care programs in Tumaco and Buenaventura, providing psychological support to people affected by violence, related to both crime and armed groups. A total of 9,097 mental health consultations were held in 2017. In addition, in Buenaventura, 800 people sought psychological support through MSF’s free and confidential telephone helpline. The teams also reinforced MSF’s services in the different communities.
After 50 years of war, it is estimated that more than 126,000 people are missing. MSF has initiated a project to provide psychological support to family members of victims of forced disappearance. It is based in Puerto Asís, Putumayo, and Cali, Valle, where almost 500 and 3,000 people are reported missing, respectively. After starting in August and September, the project teams conducted more than 300 individual mental health consultations and 160 group sessions.
Medical care was provided to 227 victims of sexual violence in Tumaco and 296 in Buenaventura. MSF also supported women who needed to terminate their pregnancies. Despite liberal legislation in this regard, barriers still exist for women seeking access to safe medical assistance.