Colombia

Colombia: US Deputy Secretary of State visits IOM project for reintegration of ex-combatants

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John Negroponte, United States Deputy Secretary of State, visited an IOM project near Bogotá yesterday which focuses on the economic reintegration of ex-combatants.

The project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is part of a demobilization and reintegration programme that started in mid 2006 within the framework of a peace process between the Colombian government and illegal armed groups and is aimed at strengthening institutions critical to the successful reintegration of ex-combatants.

Working with the Colombian government's Office of the High Counsellor for Reintegration, IOM also provides assistance to communities receiving ex-combatants.

The project visited by John Negroponte provides training for employment in the clothing industry and the setting up of a manufacturing plant expected to benefit up to 255 people including ex-combatants and members of host communities.

It also involves active participation by private enterprise and the civil society with institutions such as the Fundación Compartir and the Minuto de Dios organization taking over the training of personnel and the operation of the factory respectively. Companies such as General Motors and the Home Center store chain will also be commercial partners. The Office of the High Counselor for Reintegration is providing more than USD 94,000 to set up the clothing factory.

During his visit, Ambassador Negroponte spoke with some of the beneficiaries of the projects and stressed the contribution of USAID and IOM to the process of reintegrating ex-combatants. The Presidential High Counselor for Reintegration of People and Groups in Rebellion, Frank Pearl, who accompanied the visit, stressed the importance to the Colombian government of the international community's contribution to the reintegration process of more than 30,000 ex-combatants over the last 2 years.

For further information, please contact Jorge Andres Gallo, IOM Colombia, Tel: + 57 1 622 7774 or Email: jgallo@oim.org.co

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