Severe flooding in the Arauca department in eastern Colombia has affected more than 50,000 people since mid-July. Many of the victims are refugees from Venezuela, which borders Colombia.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that heavy rains in the foothills of the plains and in the upper Arauca River since 11 July 2021 have caused an increase in the flow of at least eleven rivers in the department.
Flooding damaged homes and livelihoods in rural and urban areas in the municipalities of Saravena, Arauquita, Tame, Fortul and Arauca, and then in areas of the municipalities of Kravo Norte and Puerto Rondon. According to the government department, 300,000 hectares of land were flooded. In the municipality of Arauca, up to 50% of rural land is flooded. The flooding also damaged roads and bridges, leaving areas cut off.
The Arauka government reported that as of 18 July, floods affected 8,850 people in Arauca, 6,400 in Tama, 11,440 in Fortula and 6,312 in Saraven. As of July 28, Colombia's National Disaster Risk Management Division (UNGRD) reported that at least 11,868 families (47,472 people) were affected by floods across the department.
Of the 50,000 victims, according to OCHA, approximately 5,972 are Venezuelan citizens (1,493 families). Floods in areas of the municipality of Arauca, home to refugees and migrants from Venezuela, as well as displaced and host populations, have forced many to build temporary shelters along the roadside.