Supporting refugees

Shaping the future through dialogue in Colombia

In November 2016 the Government of Colombia and the guerrilla movement FARC signed a peace agreement after more than 50 years of armed conflict. Colombia has since been working to create the basis and conditions for lasting peace.

The main challenge: Colombia is the country with the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world. More than seven million Colombians have had to flee violence and destruction since the mid-1980s – often from the countryside to shantytowns on the outskirts of cities. A disproportionately high number of them are of indigenous and Afro-Colombian descent. Competition with local residents for jobs, for example, often leads to violence and mutual discrimination.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is supporting the South American country in improving living conditions for internally displaced persons and host communities. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), it is also consolidating peacebuilding at national, regional and local level.

1 Gefaengnis Cucuta

Creating normality for internally displaced persons and host communities

The project enables displaced persons in Colombia to regain control of their everyday lives, look to the future with optimism and live in a secure environment by supporting them in building new livelihoods and integrating well into their new homes. Support activities include training in non-violent conflict management and building crafts, assistance in starting and managing micro-businesses, and job placement for youths.

Better income and greater financial autonomy promote social cohesion in the communities in the long term. Measures also include building sound accommodation and legalising settlements. After all, official recognition of a settlement is an important step for the dwellers towards normality, as it means access to clean drinking water, sanitation and electricity.

For the sake of peace: reconciliation processes and compensation

In order to build a lasting peace, however, it is necessary to come to terms with the violent past. That means compensating the victims of violence. GIZ is helping to rebuild trust between the state and society and to more closely coordinate the work done by the various institutions for the victims.

In Norte de Santander province, for example, around 300 public servants have been trained to date so that applications for compensation can be processed more quickly. They manage the cases of more than 286,000 victims of the conflict who are registered in the province – three fourths of them are internally displaced persons. Moreover, the land restitution process is to be improved because many internally displaced persons such as the Barí indigenous community in Norte de Santander want to return to their homes.

 

January 2018


        
    
Act of reconciliation in El Buen Pastor prison in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander
Act of reconciliation in El Buen Pastor prison in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander © GIZ/Hanna Thiesing

        
    
Newspaper archives in the public library in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander
Newspaper archives in the public library in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander. Articles about crimes committed in the context of the armed conflict in the region are collected here. They can be consulted by the victims. ©GIZ/Hanna Thiesing

        
    
Stones reminiscent of the victims of the armed conflict in the humanitarian zone Civipaz in El Castillo, Meta.
Stones reminiscent of the victims of the armed conflict in the humanitarian zone Civipaz in El Castillo, Meta © GIZ/Hanna Thiesing

        
    
GIZ supports governmental and non-governmental agencies in the southern Colombian city of Florencia to better care for the conflict victims. On the memorial day for the victims, GIZ presented its work with a photo series.
GIZ supports governmental and non-governmental agencies in the southern Colombian city of Florencia to better care for the conflict victims. On the memorial day for the victims, GIZ presented its work with a photo series. © GIZ