Colombia's cycle of violence - Conclusion

Every day, millions of Colombians wake to the daily struggle of living under constant threat. Violence of such duration and extent produces a profound and indelible effect on individuals and communities. Human suffering of these proportions cannot be tackled solely through clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Both displaced and returnee communities struggle with the limited shortterm humanitarian assistance available. MSF is particularly concerned with the lack of healthcare. Basic services are often unavailable. Essential immunization programs fall far short of acceptable coverage rates, and this applies not only to conflict regions of difficult access, but also to displaced communities living in accessible urban slums. The resulting risk of outbreaks of infectious disease is unacceptably high. Violence generated by the ongoing conflict should be a major public health concern in the country, yet not enough priority is placed upon responding to the medical consequences of this chronic reality. Particularly alarming is the almost complete absence of mental health services in regions where MSF observes enormous need. As a consequence, victims and survivors alike endure ongoing mental trauma with no hope of relief. The testimonies of our patients, staff, and people in the communities where we work have painted a cycle of violence and displacement that has no end. Every day, millions of Colombians wake to the daily struggle of living under constant threat. Violence of such duration and extent produces a profound and indelible effect on individuals and communities. Human suffering of these proportions cannot be tackled solely through clinical diagnosis and treatment. The human cost of the Colombian conflict defies statistics and the solution exceeds the means available to an emergency medical organization. It calls for the Colombian government and other responsible agencies to uphold their obligation to provide protection and assistance to the victims of Colombia's violence. Médecins sans Frontières April, 2006 Bogota/Amsterdam