UNHCR prepares for possible exodus of Colombians to neighbouring countries

UNHCR prepares for possible exodus of Colombians to neighbouring countries

Responding to the breakdown of peace talks in Colombia, the United Nations refugee agency is planning for a possible exodus of civilians across international borders, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

Responding to the breakdown of peace talks in Colombia, the United Nations refugee agency is planning for a possible exodus of civilians across international borders, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

UNHCR is stepping up its preparedness in the border areas of the countries neighbouring Colombia in readiness for any possible increase in the numbers of civilians seeking refuge as a result of the escalation in the nearly 40-year conflict,” spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva.

While so far there have been no reports of large-scale population movements into Ecuador, Panama or Venezuela, the agency is working with the authorities, partner organizations and other UN agencies in those countries. The aim, said Mr. Janowski, is “to ensure a timely humanitarian response in case of large cross-border movements.”

UNCHR currently maintains three offices inside Colombia, where it is working with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond to the needs of some 1 million displaced persons. Proportionally, this is one of the largest displaced populations in the world.