A farmer in Quindío province, Colombia

Social situation Land distribution crucial for social peace

In the past few years, progress has been made on social development in Colombia thanks to a large number of economic and social reforms. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put great strain on Colombia. By the end of July 2022, the country had registered more than 6.2 million infections and over 140,000 deaths.

The pandemic has reversed years of poverty reduction. According to World Bank data, the proportion of people living below the national poverty line has risen again in the recent past (2020: 42.5 per cent, up from 37.5 per cent in 2019). The distribution of income, land ownership and wealth, which is extremely unequal in Colombia compared with other countries in the region and worldwide, has become even more unequal. Poverty levels are disproportionately high in rural regions that are home to ethnic minorities.

In 2021, the official unemployment rate was 14.3 per cent, a level that had last been seen in 2002.

Displacement and land theft

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Colombia is hosting the second-highest number of refugees worldwide (after Turkey). It also has the second-highest number of internally displaced persons (after Syria).

Most of the approximately 3 million refugees are from neighbouring Venezuela. This includes nearly 500,000 Colombians who had been displaced by the internal conflict and are now coming back from Venezuela to their home country. It is becoming more and more difficult for host communities to uphold social services for the refugees and for the local population. This is putting strain on the fragile peace situation in Colombia.

Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities continue to be particularly affected by internal displacement. In the past, the military conflicts were used deliberately to drive small farmers from their land and seize it illegally. Now it is mainly organised criminal gangs that displace people from their homes.

Gender equality

In Colombia, like in many countries of the world, women and people whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to majority norms are facing structural disadvantages and, in many cases, daily violence. This particularly applies to people from vulnerable groups (indigenous and Afro-Colombian people, displaced people).

At the same time, for the parliamentary term of 2022 to 2026, seven Congress members were elected who are part of the LGBTIQ+ community, making Colombia the country with the second-highest number of LGBTIQ+ members of parliament in the world, after the United States. And the country's Vice President is the second woman and the first Afro-Colombian to hold this office.

As at: 17/08/2022