Colombian Oil Spill Joint UN Environment/OCHA Mission


Joint UN Environment/OCHA Mission in Response to Colombian Oil Spill

Following a request from the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, a Joint UN Environment/OCHA mission has been deployed to support the Government in the evaluation of the environmental and humanitarian impact of the oil spill that occurred in La Lizama oilfield in the Department of Santander, starting the 2nd March 2018.

The spill primarily affected La Lizama and Sogamoso river ecosystems. The Sogamoso River is a tributary of the Magdalena River, Colombia’s largest source of water. According to preliminary estimates from the National Environmental Licencing Authority (ANLA), 2,400 animals died, 1,800 trees were affected and a growing number of people had to relocate from the area and received medical care. The spill has had significant impacts on human health as a result of water contamination and on livelihoods for affected fishermen’s communities.

(Photocredits: OCHA/Nicolas Mayr)

The UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit was mobilised to respond to the environmental emergency. A joint United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC)/Environment mission has been deployed. The team includes three environmental experts specialised in oil spill management, two of whom deployed through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), as well as three  UNDAC team members and two OCHA Colombia staff to assist the experts with humanitarian coordination and information management, bringing the total to eight team members.

“The mission is aimed at evaluating the impact of this incident in order to suggest actions for the restoration of the environment and to help strengthen environmental management in this region,” said Dan Stothart, UN Environment Regional Humanitarian Affairs Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean and the mission team leader.

The results that the mission will deliver revolve around four fundamental themes: “The first is a rapid assessment of environmental damage from an independent perspective; the second is a quick review of how the Ministry’s response was and what can be improved in the future; the third is guidelines for the restoration plan and, the fourth is recommendations for strengthening institutional capacity” said the Minister of Environment, His Excellency Mr. Luis Gilberto Murillo, at the launch of the mission in Bogotá.

The experts arrived between Wednesday 11th and Saturday 14th of April. The mission will last two weeks until the 26th of April and a final report will be delivered to the authorities upon mission completion.

Link to press release (in Spanish):

Contact: Margherita Fanchiotti, UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit ([email protected])

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