Voices of America
Help Needed for Colombian Displaced
Aug 04--Years of insurgency and narcoterrorism have placed Colombia among the countries with the highest numbers of Internally Displaced Persons, or IDPs. Threatened by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia terrorist group, other illegal armed groups, criminal gangs and drug traffickers, people continue to be driven from their homes and forced to abandon their lands and livelihoods.
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According to the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement, a Colombian non-governmental organization, an estimated 4.6 million people have been forced to leave their homes since 1985. The Colombian government places the number at 3.1 million IDPs since its National Registry was launched in 2000.
While the Colombian government believes there is fraud in the registration system, it also acknowledges there is a high rate of under-registration. There are also over 400,000 Colombians who have fled across borders seeking refuge and asylum in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Venezuela.
Many IDPs live below the poverty line, lack food security and dwell in homes that fall below minimum construction standards. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that one of every two displaced persons in Colombia is unemployed.
Displaced women, Afro-Colombians, and the indigenous are particularly vulnerable to violence, sexual assault, unemployment, and discrimination.
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