Colombia – IOM Colombia is strengthening the capacity of mayors, governors, and other local authorities, as well as the Ministry of Health, the Victims Unit, the Center for Historical Memory, and the Office of the Ombudsman, to provide assistance to victims of the armed conflict as required in the Victims and Land Restitution Law signed by President Juan Manuel Santos in December 2011.
The landmark legislation responds to long-standing issues faced by victims of the conflict since 1985 by providing financial compensation and social assistance to millions of victims, as well as restoring millions of acres of land to Colombians who have been driven from their homes. To do so, the legal framework created the Victims Unit, the Land Restitution Unit and the Center for Historical Memory, which are responsible for the implementation of the law.
In the past two months IOM delegations have travelled to La Guajira, Chocó, Bolívar, Medellín, Cauca, Nariño, and Urabá to introduce the USD 50 million Victims Institutional Strengthening Programme (VISP) in departments and municipalities that have been prioritized to provide assistance to victims.
“The success of this landmark legislation depends on the capacity of state institutions to implement it. The visits of IOM delegations to the field are helping local authorities understand the complexities in the Victims Law implementation in each region, which depends on the particular context and needs,” explains Macelo Pisani, IOM Chief of Mission in Colombia.
The Colombian Government estimates there are some five million victims in need of reparation and assistance. In 2012, 157,013 persons received reparation and psychosocial care. This year, the Government’s objective is to provide reparation and assistance to another 151,000 victims.
The reparation and assistance to victims, which is designed with direct input from victims and communities, includes registration, compilation of testimonials, financial reparation, physical and psychosocial rehabilitation, and special assistance for Afro-Colombians and other ethnic groups, as well as women and children.
IOM’s institutional strengthening and technical support in seven departments and 21 municipalities, including the capital Bogotá, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
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