Colombia is mourning #WeAreAllMocoa

Apr 2, 2017

Rescue operations continue in Mocoa. Photo: Local UN Coordination Team

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) deeply regrets the loss of life, sympathizes with the affected families and the Colombian people, and reiterates its commitment to support the government in its efforts to respond to urgent needs and in the process of recovery of Mocoa.

Bogotá – Colombia is mourning after the tragic landslide that took place in Mocoa, Putumayo during the night of Friday March 31, when 17 neighborhoods were flooded with mud and rocks and five were buried as a result of the overflow of the Mocoa, Mulato and Sangoyaco rivers. More than 238 people were killed as reported to date.

As rescue operations continue, more than 200 people are being treated in the hospital and approximately 600 people are sheltered. Following the activation of the National Risk Management System, President Santos installed a unified command post and authorized the declaration of calamity established by the Putumayo departmental government.

Critical aspects focus on the rescue of lives, protection and attention to the victims,  in particular children and women, connectivity to restore the water supply and energy, as well as the rehabilitation of damaged roads, houses and bridges. The National Risk Management System is being effectively implemented in the wake of the emergency, and is working day and night with more than 1,300 people, including the National Disaster Risk Management Unit, the Army, Police, Air Force, Navy, Civil Defense, Red Cross, Government, Mayor's Office, CTI, Legal Medicine and Corpoamazonia.

The department of Putumayo, located in the southwestern part of Colombia on the border with Ecuador and Peru, has been a strategic scenario for the armed conflict. Drug trafficking, the presence of non-state armed groups, mining, a high index of multidimensional poverty (79% by 2014) and high vulnerability to disasters, - there were 50 in only four years, between 2011 and 2015-,  are some of the major challenges facing a population of 349,537 people, of which 49% is concentrated in the departmental capital of Mocoa.

In coordination with the Country Humanitarian Team and the UN Mocoa Team, UNDP is monitoring the situation closely and has made its experience available to support government efforts in responding to the emergency and in the process of recovery.  In support of local rescue work, UNDP is delivering 100 solar lamps to recharge mobile phones and devices and has offered to set up 32 water capture systems and treatment filters for drinking water.

For UNDP, there is an inseparable path between sustainable human development and disaster risk prevention and management. Disasters are a social and historical construction that can and should be prevented by recognizing vulnerabilities, environmental constraints in a territory and managing risks comprehensively. To this end, UNDP works with governments and communities affected by disasters around the world, contributing to the recovery of their livelihoods and addressing the underlying causes to eliminate future risks.

Based on the Sendai Framework, the 2030 Agenda, and the Peace Agreement, the moment is ripe in Colombia to draw up an urgent route that addresses the vulnerability of municipalities such as Mocoa. This tragedy reinforces the importance of continuing to work with public institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and citizens to strengthen the resilience of the communities in the country, an essential requirement for integral human development and the construction of peace in the territories.

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