UNHCR campaign offers new perspective on rights of Colombia's displaced

Sept 07--In a crowded corner of northern Bogotá, a young professional couple walk through a popular square full of street vendors and performers. The man, in a pin-striped suit and sunglasses, holds a large poster that reads: "I lost my laptop at the airport with all the information from the office". Beside him, a woman hands out flyers to confused pedestrians.

7 de septiembre de 2009

"Displaced people are like us except that they have lost everything," they state.

The well-dressed couple are professional actors taking part in a new UNHCR campaign to raise awareness of the losses incurred by Colombia's displaced population. It aims to remind people from more privileged neighourhoods that while the loss of a cell phone or a wallet may be jarring, many of their compatriots are daily suffering far greater losses.

The campaign, which focuses on the loss of land and property among the dispaced, also features radio spots and newspaper advertisements. A hotline provides additional information while allowing callers to record their comments.

The messages are part of a new strategy to create greater empathy with displaced people by establishing a clear link between their problems and the daily concerns of wealthier Colombians, many of whom live in cities and have little information on the conflict that has forced millions to flee their homes.

As of June, more than three million people were on the State Registry for Internally Displaced People in Colombia, a number that continues to grow. They have fled as a result, directly or indirectly, of the conflict. The majority come from the countryside with some 70% having had close ties to the land before their displacement, either as owners, holders or occupiers.
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