Forced displacement in Colombia: Magnitude and causes

Ana Maria Ibanez


The article describes the magnitude, geographical extent,  and causes of forced population displacements in Colombia. Forced migration in Colombia is a war strategy adopted by armed groups to strengthen territorial strongholds, weaken civilian support to the enemy, seize valuable lands, and produce and transport illegal drugs with ease. Forced displacement in Colombia today affects 3.5 million people. Equivalent to 7.8 percent of Colombia's population, and second worldwide only to Sudan, this shows the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis the country is facing. The phenomenon involves all of Colombia's territory and nearly 90 percent of the country's municipalities expel or receive population. In contrast to other countries, forced migration in Colombia is largely internal. Illegal armed groups are the main responsible parties, migration does not result in massive refugee streams but occurs on an individual basis, and the displaced population is dispersed throughout the territory and not focused in refugee camps. These characteristics pose unique challenges for crafting state policy that can effectively mitigate the impact of displacement.


Conflict, civil war, forced displacement, migration

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