Colombia – Exploratory Head of Mission (with Health Focus)

Key infomation

Job title

Colombia – Exploratory Head of Mission (with Health Focus)

Place (town/region)


Employee status


Type of contract

Fixed Term Contract

Expected start date


Duration of mission

2 months

Position summary


Venezuela faces a major political, economic and social crisis, with hyperinflation, acute scarcity of food, medicine and other basic goods and one of the world’s highest murder rates. During widespread protests against Maduro’s government, dozens of opposition demonstrators have been killed. The July 2017 election of an all-powerful Constituent Assembly closed down almost all remaining democratic spaces, sparking widespread condemnation in the region and around the world. In recent years, almost 2.3 million people left Venezuela to live, mostly, in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, and Chile. In the short term, migration places significant pressures on the provision of services, institutions, labor markets and the social dynamics of the receiving areas, affecting most the vulnerable populations in both the migrant and local communities.

Colombia hosts the largest number of Venezuelan migrants (1.2 million), 750 000 on the first nine month of 2018. Amongst them, 24% are nationals who are returning to their home country. Between 70,000 and 80,000 Venezuelan citizens cross the border with Colombia every day. While most return to their country the same day, others stay in Colombia. On 2 August, 442,000 Venezuelans were granted a Special Stay Permit (PEP) providing them legal status for two years.

In absolute terms, Bogotá is the city with the largest number of migrants. However, in relative terms, the border areas (Norte de Santander, Arauca and Guajira) are the most affected, with the migrants representing between 2.5% and 5% of the population. These regions have development lags, which limits their ability to absorb migrants.

Some Venezuelans in Colombia live in precarious conditions, sometimes staying in public installations such as transport terminals, with multiple needs including shelter, protection, health and WASH. Almost 70% of Venezuelans in Colombia are estimated to have irregular migratory status and are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. They lack access to basic services and work. Only 40% of the migrant children are in school, and the migrant population is twice as likely to be unemployed than the local Colombian population. The cost of additional public services caused by migration including education, health, water and sanitation, early care, housing support, employment services and institutional strengthening lies between 0.23% and 0.41% of Colombia’s GDP.

In early February, the Colombian government tightened entry restrictions and security along the border with Venezuela, deploying an additional 3,000 security personnel, and temporarily halted the processing of new border mobility cards. Increased traffic along illegal border crossing routes has been reported since entry restrictions changed. Armed groups control many illegal crossing points, which leads to protection concerns for people using these crossings.

New policies implemented by other Latin American countries will likely worsen the situation in Colombia. Since 18 August, Ecuadorian authorities demand that all Venezuelans must hold a valid passport to enter the country. The same measure was to be implemented from 25 August in Peru. Other countries, such as Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, had already started to implement a special visa policy for Venezuelans. Colombian authorities are concerned that these new policies will lead to an increase in human trafficking, tensions with host communities, and general insecurity.

Première Urgence Internationale positioning

PUI sent a first mission to Colombia in early 2019, to understand better the situation and figure out if there was a possibility of intervention for PUI. This first exploration phase was done together with Solidarités, and led the teams in Bogota to meet with stakeholders and in several regions all across the country to assess the situation at field level. All information is available in the report of this mission, but basically it showed great needs, lacks in coverage and some financial opportunities. From now on and still in close collaboration with Solidarités, PUI wishes to position itself in Colombia to open a mission and start projects in the country. In a longer term, the interest would actually be on Venezuela, where it would be intended at some point to open a mission as well.

As in many areas, PUI is willing to begin its humanitarian answer in health. If it still has to be built, the partnership with Solidarités is meant to go on, and complementarity is to be found in the activities. Therefore a serious understanding of humanitarian health needs and of PUI intervention framework are needed to properly set-up the mission there.


Under the direct supervision of the Emergency Officer, the Exploratory Head of Mission main objectives are the following

  • To set PUI as a renown actor in Colombia
  • To set-up an operational strategy in country
  • To launch the first activities

Main activities

Register PUI as a humanitarian actor in Colombia

Represent PUI towards donors and crucial stakeholders

Coordinate needed assessments

Manage the team for assessment if needed

Draft the first concept notes and proposals

Ensure signature of MoU with the key local actors

Set-up a draft of strategy for PUI in Colombia

Gather information for a possible positionning in Venezuela

Respect and (when relevant) enforce, the security protocoles defined, the logistics frames and the financial procedures of PUI.

Required profile


Project management

Health training or at minimum strong experience in health projects coordination


5 years of humanitarian experience in project coordination.

Previous experience as Head of Mission in an NGO, including with PUI

Previous experience in assessment / exploratory missions

Successful experience in expatriate team management and multi-sector programmes.

Security management

Health projects coordination

and skills

Excellent negotiation skills

Excellent writing skills

Excellent safety and security management and analysis skills


Spanish and English mandatory

Proposed terms


Monthly Gross Income: from 3 190 up to 3 520 Euros depending on the experience in International Solidarity + 50 Euros per semester seniority with PUI


Cost covered:  Round-trip transportation to and from home / mission, visas, vaccines…

Insurance including medical coverage and complementary healthcare, 24/24 assistance and repatriation

Housing in collective accommodation

Daily living Expenses (« Per diem »)


Break Policy  : 5 working days at 3 and 9 months + break allowance

Paid Leaves Policy  : 5 weeks of paid leaves per year + return ticket every 6 months

Download the full job description in pdf

Person in charge of this offer

In charge

Camille Attias, Human Resources Officer for Expatriates

Apply to this offer

RH : Candidature