In the northeast of the country, located on a plateau, is Bucaramanga, the capital of the department of Santander. The city is home to 581,000 inhabitants and has the lowest unemployment rate in Colombia,
The decades of armed conflict has also displaced thousands of families, and created a challenging environment for children to grow up in. In recent years, many refugees have also arrived from neighboring Venezuela.
Since 1999, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Fort Portal.
Because of violence among guerrillas, paramilitary groups, and the state’s forces, Colombians continue to be forced to leave their homes.
Displaced children and young people often do not go to school and their most basic needs are not taken care of.
However, it is hard to know how many children and young people are affected – cases are underreported because of threats, fear of reprisals, a lack of awareness of protection services, and long distances to reporting centres.
Displaced people and migrants have left their homes, jobs, and support networks behind. But when they arrive in a new place, local infrastructure is often not sufficiently available for them.
For example, only 18% of the country’s population is using safely managed sanitation services, which means that they have access to facilities that are not shared with other households, from which excreta are safely disposed of or treated off-site. Meanwhile, a vast majority of residents is using basic or limited sanitation services – a fact that illustrates the current challenges in terms of living conditions and infrastructure development.