Colombia + 4 more

IOM press briefing notes 24 Jan 2003: Mozambique, Kenya, Colombia

News and Press Release
Originally published
Spokesperson: Jean Philippe Chauzy
MOZAMBIQUE - Transfer of Refugees and Asylum Seekers - The IOM office in Maputo is working with UNHCR to assist some 900 refugees and asylum seekers transfer from the Bobole refugee camp near the capital Maputo to the newly established Marratane camp in the northeastern province of Nampula.

The refugees and asylum seekers, mainly Congolese, Burundians, Rwandans and Angolans are making the 2,000 kilometre journey by IOM charter flight.=A0 So far, IOM has provided transport assistance to 224 persons. This week's transfer of 111 refugees, which was delayed for 10 days because of a cyclone, is the second of six planned IOM flights.

IOM and UNHCR staff and government officials, including medical officers, accompany each flight.=A0=A0 IOM is also providing bags and other materials needed to pack personal belongings.

IOM is also carrying out the registration of all refugees and asylum seekers in the Maputo area.=A0 An information campaign was started in October 2002 to explain to the refugees about the voluntary nature of the transfer, describe the new facilities available in Marratane camp and the consequences of staying in Maputo. During the months of November and December 2002, IOM registered 1,682 persons; 633 of them agreed to a voluntary transfer to the new camp.

Today, Marratane is the only camp in Mozambique where refugees and asylum seekers can receive humanitarian assistance.=A0 Marratane camp has a health clinic, primary school and a small market and is located 34km outside of Nampula City.=A0 Currently, there are some 2,000 refugees living in the camp.

Those who transfer to the new camp will be offered the possibility of local integration through allocation of land to build their homes and for agriculture.

For more information please contact IOM Pretoria Tel: 27.12.342.2789.

KENYA - Registration of Ex-LRA Ugandan Rebels Gathers Pace - After three days of registration, 266 former combatants of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and their dependants, including abducted women and children, have registered with IOM to return to Uganda from Kenya under the Ugandan Amnesty Act of 2000. The registration, which is currently carried out in collaboration with the Ugandan and Kenyan authorities and the Ugandan Amnesty Commission will continue until 7 February.

The LRA has waged a decade-long guerrilla war in northern Uganda and has abducted nearly 10,000 children for use as soldiers, porters and sex slaves. Many thousands are thought to have died while in LRA captivity. According to a UNICEF-supported registration system, 5,555 abducted children are still missing.=A0

Joseph is an eighteen-year old veteran of countless battles, who registered with IOM on Wednesday. He says rebels kidnapped him in Northern Uganda when he was five years old.=A0 On his first night of captivity he watched a boy shot dead because he was asking questions.=A0 The following day his captors gathered all the recently kidnapped children and executed the sick, small and weak.=A0 After fleeing to Kenya in 1999, he has lived on the streets of Nairobi. "I want to return to Uganda and find my grandfather and get an education," he says.=A0

Another former female abductee told IOM registrars:=A0 "What I have seen, I don't want to ever see again. I had to strangle other human beings in order to survive and was forced to be the wife to many husbands."=A0

Former combatants and their dependents accepted for repatriation by the Amnesty Commission will return home with IOM.

Once in Uganda, they will be handed over to the Amnesty Commission and will be eligible to receive rehabilitation, reinsertion and reintegration support provided by IOM, UNICEF and the NGOs World Vision, Gusca and Kichwa.=A0

The project, funded by USAID and the EU, is expected to provide return and reintegration for an initial group of 200 LRA rebels from Kenya and 300 from neighbouring Sudan.

For more information, please contact Sasha Chanoff, IOM Nairobi. Tel. +254.2.444.4167. Email:

COLOMBIA - Prevention Information and Help for Victims of Anti-Personnel Mines - IOM's Programme to Strengthen Peace in Colombia is carrying out a project aimed at providing prevention information to potential victims and assistance to those who have suffered landmine accidents.

According to UNICEF, Colombia is the only country in the Americas where landmines are currently being planted.=A0 Landmines are present in more than 140 municipalities in 24 of the 32 provinces of Colombia.=A0 This constitutes 15% or 145,000 square kilometres of the territory.=A0 It is estimated that there are some 100,000 anti personnel mines scattered throughout the country.

The project includes preventive education and training through workshops, the creation of databases and maps detailing mined areas, and medical assistance, physical rehabilitation and psychosocial support for victims of landmines.

So far, six workshops have been carried out in Bogota and the provinces of Santander, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Antioquia and Bolivar.

Training has also been provided to 426 persons, members of high-risk communities.=A0 The participants have included children, members of the Armed Forces, health and education promoters, social and religious leaders, national and local authorities, indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations, mass media, community broadcasting stations and executors of the Landmines Observatory.

IOM is working with the President's Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Programme and the NGO Justapaz.=A0 The US$56,000 project is financed by USAID's Office for Transitional Initiatives.