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.