Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Study Sheds Light on the IDP Situation in Colombia

Christine Oberli spoke on April 7, 2008 at Interaction in Washington DC about the International Committee for Red Cross’s (ICRC) operations in Colombia. As head of assistance programs in Colombia, Ms. Oberli highlighted a new study that the ICRC commissioned in conjunction with the World Food Program. The research study examines internally displaced persons in Colombia and the effectiveness and necessity of humanitarian aid.

In Colombia, internally displaced persons (IDP) are a huge problem. People leave their land because of fighting between paramilitary troops, rebel groups, and even because of their own military. Many leave to escape death threats or forced recruitment into rebel groups. There are over two million people who are classified as IDPs within Colombia. ICRC is a group which provides humanitarian aid to IDPs throughout the country in the form of food and hygiene kits and with emergency services.

From the study, priority recommendations have been created for future humanitarian aid to IDPs. They are:

  1. The need for literacy and adult education access- In Colombia, many adults, especially IDPs have only 2-3 years of education. It is statistically shown that to overcome poverty, one must have, on average, 10 years of education.
  2. Social responsibility programs- The private sector must begin taking some of the responsibility in providing for IDPs.
  3. Improvement of living conditions- There is a need to provide housing subsidies to those who are poorly ranked on the living conditions index.
  4. Sexual and reproductive health education programs- One of the main reasons for girls dropping out of high school is pregnancy. There is a need to educate children and young adults on sexual and reproductive health issues.
  5. Emphasis on psycho and social problems- There is a need for programs to provide psychological support programs for IDPs and those who work with IDPs daily.
  6. Effective mechanism for protecting assets and land- Many in Colombia are internally displaced because they are kicked off of their land. There needs to be measures to ensure the preservation of property to owners.

The study provides international organizations with the information to more effectively distribute humanitarian aid in ways which will be most beneficial to the recipients. In doing so, ICRC moves closer to finding a solution to this crisis.

For more information visit the ICRC website on Colombia:


Sponsor: Interaction
Location: 1400 16th St. NW
Date: April 7, 2008
Time: 3:30-5pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 12
Representative Attending: Ellen Rolfes

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