Monday, 18 January 2021

UN in your language


A refugee in their own country – the fate of the Colombian IDPs

UNHCR 1 B.HegerThe conflict between the Colombian government and armed Marxist guerillas that began in the mid 1960s have left over 3 million people as refugees in their own country. Not often mentioned in the world media, these internally displaced people (IDPs) are a part of everyday life in the South-American country of Colombia. The IDPs often live deplorable conditions, in constant fear of arbitrary killings with no long-term solution in sight. This creates a precarious humanitarian situation. The Colombian IDP problem is labeled one of the world’s forgotten crises by the Norwegian branch of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).


An escalating crisis – the situation is critical


The sheer number of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Colombia illustrates how serious the situation is, according to UNHCR representative in Colombia, Terry Morel: “The situation is clearly difficult, especially when you look at the dimensions. According to official government figures there are  3.6 million IDPs in Colombia today. A disproportionate number of these are  afro-colombians and indigenous people.”


The kidnapper and the kidnapped - A true Colombian story

Mark Henderson directorIn 2003 Mark Henderson, a British TV and documentary producer, was kidnapped and held hostage in the Colombian jungle for 101 days. After being contacted by one of his kidnappers one year after his release, he returned to the site of his kidnapping with three of his fellow hostages to confront his kidnapper.

The documentary My Kidnapper will be screened at UNRIC’s Ciné-ONU on 15 November 2011 at the Goethe Institute, Rue Belliardstraat 58, Brussels. Mark Henderson will be present at the screening and will lead the discussion after the film.


The guerrilla groups in Colombia

country-col-400FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia):

The Farc is the oldest and largest group among Colombia's left-wing rebels and is one of the world's richest guerrilla armies. The group's roots can be traced back to the Liberal guerrilla bands of La Violencia - the civil war between the Liberal and Conservative parties that raged from 1948 until 1958. Farc became disillusioned with the leadership of the Liberal Party and turned to communism. One of the guerrilla bands was led by Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda (his real name is Pedro Antonio Marin), who in 1966 baptised his group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


3 questions to film-maker Paula Mendoza.


    • Internally displaced people: or IDPs, are often wrongly called refugees. Unlike refugees, IDPs have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary but have remained inside their home countries. Even if they have fled for similar reasons as refugees (armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations), IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government - even though that government might be the cause of their flight. As citizens, they retain all of their rights and protection under both human rights and international humanitarian law.

      There are 3,484,350 IDP’s in Colombia according to the Colombian government.


    • Refugee: The 1951 Refugee Convention establishing UNHCR spells out that a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."


    • Asylum-seeker: The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.

      National asylum systems are there to decide which asylum-seekers actually qualify for international protection. Those judged through proper procedures not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their home countrie