IDPs in Colombia - Some progress, but immense humanitarian needs

IDPs in Colombia - Some progress, but immense humanitarian needs - ©ICRC / W. Krassowsk

IDPs in Colombia - Some progress, but immense humanitarian needs - ©ICRC / W. Krassowsk

Interesting post on USAID's Impact blog on efforts to restitute land to Internally Displaced Persons by the Colombian government.

Eric Postel writes that the Colombian government, with support from AID, will in the next ten years reportedly resolve 360,000 land restitution cases.

The adoption the Victim's Law and the Land Restitution Law by Colombia are encouraging initial steps to eventually solve one of the country's outstanding humanitarian issues. However, as Mr. Postel mentions, the humanitarian crisis caused by displacement in Colombia is immense, with almost 4 million persons uprooted from their homeland in recent years, almost 9% of the population. 

Our recently published Colombia 2011 Report analyses the issue of displacement in detail on the basis of information collected in the field. Here is the testimony of a displaced woman who fled to the city with her seven children:

"We lost everything, absolutely everything: the farm, the bus stop stall, the hens. We even had a wood stove with six burners. We also left behind two mules, a billy goat, a horse, onion fields and blackberry patches. It’s really tough. We’ve been in the city for a month. I came on my own with my seven children. One day − it was a Sunday − armed men came to the house and said to us: ‘We don’t want to hurt you, but you must go; we know your husband is a snitch’. They came back eight days later and I also received a notification in writing telling me to leave. That same day, we gathered our things and fled. We took what we could: what we were wearing, a few blankets, three changes of clothes for the little one. This is so hard for us, because there in the country we were used to having our onions, our tomatoes. Here we have to buy everything. Fleeing and leaving our home behind was the hardest thing. We put in electricity and water. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. When my youngest son goes to nursery, I suppose I’ll go and get work ironing and washing; without any qualifications, what else can I do?"

The ICRC recognizes that in 2011, the efforts of State institutions improved, with more programs to assist displaced people in many of the country’s cities. However, mass displacement still occurs with frighening regularity.

Last year, our colleagues in Colombia assisted over 35,000 people living in the more inaccessible areas of the country, where government bodies do not have access. They responded to some 24 cases of massive displacement and closely monitored the humanitarian situation across Colombia.