Traditionally, humanitarian and development actors have responded to environmental disasters and displacement using an emergency response model, establishing camps, distributing aid, and building schools and clinics. However, according to the UN Refugee Agency, the billions spent on relief in the last decades have not led to the sustainable strengthening of national and local capacities. And with growing numbers of people forced to leave their homes and to relocate to expanding cities and urban areas―where it doesn’t make sense to accommodate them in camps―we need to rethink this approach. A more holistic and sustainable development-oriented approach is necessary to ensure that internally displaced people (IDP) can enjoy the human security and human rights to which they are entitled.
In Colombia, IDPs―or ‘victims’―have fled from rural areas and smaller cities and towns as a result of a decades-long internal armed conflict between the FARC, the ELN and other guerilla groups, paramilitary groups and the government’s armed forces. Nearly 8.5 million Colombians have sought refuge in medium and large-sized cities, and in neighbouring countries (RUV 2017). They have been forced to migrate in ways that increase their vulnerability―the vast majority live in poverty or extreme poverty, and fragile security conditions.