Colombia has done much to meet the challenge of bringing responsive governance, economic growth, and social stability to its people. At the same time the country has suffered under the burden of armed conflict for several decades. The conflict has affected more than 6 million people, including 5 million displaced, most of them women, children, and members of minority groups.
IRD started operations in Colombia in 2008 with the Closing Gaps program, which was designed to meet the immediate basic needs of internally displaced persons in the south pacific region. This program was complemented with a program designed to ease the emotional suffering of families of victims of homicides and disappearances. Psychosocial activities were carried out with individuals, families, and communities to promote reconciliation at the local level.
By 2014 Closing Gaps had expanded to serve 18 municipalities in four regions of Colombia (Antioquia, Caquetá, Cauca, and Córdoba) to support the efforts of the government to assist displaced people. The program gives greater emphasis to expanding institutional capacity to provide assistance through better planning, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation of local action plans for victim assistance and reparation in municipalities. Community capacity is also enhanced through support of 56 local organizations of victims of displacement.
IRD continues to provide humanitarian assistance in partnership with national and municipal agencies. The assistance is complemented by emergency psychosocial assistance, health and nutritional services, education, and access to social protection programs. Since 2008, more than 93,000 people have received humanitarian assistance.
The program now offers psychosocial and community rehabilitation activities, including with women victims of sexual violence in armed conflict. Activities include training members of victims organizations to provide peer-to-peer psychosocial assistance; Entrelazando, a community rehabilitation strategy designed by the Government of Colombia to rebuild the social fabric of communities affected by violence; and community rehabilitation activities like Casa Pintada that build trust among community members through house painting.
IRD’s Colombia programs have been funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI).
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