Urban violence and humanitarian action in Medellin

Colombia has long experienced acute forms of political violence in and at the periphery of its major cities. Humanitarian agencies have also for decades protected civilians inorganizations have started to engage in settings that are neither war nor peace. These environments feature complex forms of politically- and economically-motivatedsuch an environment where different types of violence come together in complex ways.

Humanitarian agencies only recently started expanding activities in these so-called “other situations of violence” in and around urban centers. Their focus has typicallybe more intense. This paper provides a critical review of the character and dynamics of these settings. It considers emerging forms of urban violence and the ways in which humanitarian agencies are responding. It focuses primarily on the activities of thein Medellin. The focus on Medellin is deliberate – it is a bellwether for other similar interventions underway around Latin America and the Caribbean.

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