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Five things you should know
about the 

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confinement in Colombia

Photo: Elegant Lab / NRC– Confined community in western Colombia. This community indigenous communities live in constant fear of going to their food crops in the mountains and that are far from their homes for fear of falling into an antipersonnel mine, being victims of sexual violence or being caught in the crossfire.

"The rules imposed by the armed groups are: 'you can't leave'; 'you can't use this road'; 'we don't want anyone passing through here'; 'if you don't obey, they'll threaten you'; 

'we're trapped'",

said Cecil, teacher indígena in the Pacific region.

Today, more people are trapped than ever before, hundreds of thousands are in need of assistance, and aid workers are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver humanitarian aid.


On average, humanitarian organizations reported an event that limited their access or delivery of humanitarian assistance every three days in 2022.


The situation is no better in 2023.

Here's what you need to know about restrictions related to the armed conflict in Colombia:


is a strategy
of the conflict

Confinement is a strategy used by non-state armed actors to exercise control.
Whoever controls the population controls the territory and the illicit economies. Threats, the use of antipersonnel mines, homicides, sexual violence, armed violence and the imposition of timetables for the population to stay in their homes have the purpose of restricting the mobility of the populations.
A confined community is a trapped community that is forced to remain in its home or territory.




Record of
obligated persons
to confine

Today, there are about 20,000 people who remain confined. 
In 2022, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of displaced people surpassed the historical number of displaced people in the last 10 years due to disputes between armed actors for greater control over territory. After the signing of the peace agreement, incidents of displacement increased, with 2022 being the worst year, with around 110,000 people forced into captivity. This increase is explained by the fact that armed actors continue to fight for the control of territories. From 2017 to December 2022, OCHA reported nearly 200 incidents of forced displacement.


and the fight
by survival

When communities are confined they can only survive on what they have in their homes.
The few foods run out quickly. 
Women, men and children are forced to remain in their homes indefinitely with no chance of preparing for the emergency.
The communities cannot carry out the activities necessary for their subsistence, such as fishing, hunting, cultivating, or engaging in economic activities such as mining or logging.

Children and adolescents are affected because they are prevented from attending school, which hinders their learning processes.
For the UN Refugee Agency, threatening food security by blocking food and supplies to villages and restricting access to fields and collection centers means imposing conditions of extermination on a population.


The fear that
mutes to
the population

Lockdown events can occur silently. Many communities do not talk about what happens to them out of fear —as a consequence of the threats.
In addition to limitations on mobility, resources are restricted to meet the basic needs of civilians.
Sometimes communities only have two options: keep quiet or suffer the consequences of threats from armed actors.


Indigenous and
most affected

The confinements are disproportionately concentrated and continue to increase in the departments of Chocó, Valle del Cauca and Nariño, where indigenous populations and Afro-Colombian communities inhabit mainly. 

The department of Chocó concentrates more than half of the events due to confinement in the entire country. In this department, 107 events have been registered between January 2017 and December 2022 (OCHA). 

In this department, 107 events have been registered between January 2017 and December 2022 (OCHA). In that same period, 68% of reported events affected an ethnic community. 144,000 indigenous people and 64,838 Afro-Colombians were forced to remain in their places of residence due to the pressure of the armed groups. 

The most affected municipalities in the country were Alto Baudó and Bojayá in Chocó and Buenaventura, in Valle del Cauca.

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Photo: Elegant Lab / NRC–Confined community in western Colombia. The daily life of the communities is affected by the time restrictions and the threats of the armed groups that seek control of the territories. 

"Where I live, we are afraid to walk [outside], we can't do it freely. Whenever the armed groups come, they plant mines. If it's a big artifact, it kills us, and if it's smaller, it rips off a person's limbs, leaving them with an incomplete body,” said Nelsa, who lives in southwestern Colombia.

Together for

serve the


In 2022, as the MIRE Consortium, we provide education, health, food, water, health, and improve community spaces for more than 19,000 people who were confined by the armed conflict thanks to funding from the European Union and through the actions of organizations of the MIRE Consortium.

The union of the five organizations The Norwegian Council for Refugees, Action Against Hunger, Alianza por la Solidaridad, Médicos del Mundo and ACAPS facilitated assistance to eight confined communities in Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Nariño and Putumayo.


a la acción

Hacemos un llamado al Gobierno colombiano y a los grupos armados para que negocien el fin de la práctica de los actores no estatales de confinar a comunidades enteras en sus casas o territorios, impidiéndoles el acceso a oportunidades de trabajo, atención en salud y educación. 

Facts and Data

-About 2.6 million people were affected by restrictions on the mobility and access to goods, services or rights in 192 incidents in 2022.

-More than 30,000 children will be affected by restrictions that prevent them from attending or continuing their education between 2017 and 2022.

-Between January and December 2022, reported 133 events that restricted the mobility of humanitarian actors and limited access to the assistance humanitarian to 36,200 people.

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