World

New website gives voice to people displaced by conflict

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GENEVA, 27 June 2007 - People forced from their homes by war now have a new opportunity to make their voice heard. The Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is today launching www.idpvoices.org, a platform for internally displaced people (IDPs) to tell the story of their lives before, during and after being driven from their homes by conflicts or human rights violations.

Colombia is the first of a series of countries where IDMC has led, or plans to lead, an "IDP Voices" life story project. In the years to come it aims to publish the stories of internally displaced people from around the world. Working with Panos London and a number of Colombian internally displaced people and organisations, IDMC created the first of these oral testimonies projects, in which over 50 people told their life stories to interviewers who had in many cases been displaced themselves. www.idpvoices.org includes 19 of these personal accounts, which have also been brought together in the book Para Que Se Sepa - in English Let It Be Known. The launch of the site coincides with the unveiling of the book in Bogotà.

While these accounts reveal the experiences of just a few people, they also serve to illustrate the situation of almost four million displaced Colombians who are now seeking justice and reparation for past crimes. 24.5 million people worldwide are currently displaced within their countries, and IDMC estimates that 1.5 million people have already been forced to flee during 2007. IDMC has created the site so that the reader - and listener - can discover the personal stories behind these figures.

"It is impossible to fully understand the phenomenon of forced displacement without reading real stories narrated by real people. The site gives readers a unique chance to grasp the impact of conflict at first hand, and appreciate the extraordinary courage of people determined to let the world know what happened to them," says Paul Nesse, Resident Representative of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Geneva.

For more information on the IDP Voices project, visit www.idpvoices.org or contact Jens-Hagen Eschenbächer at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva, +41-22-799 07 03, or 41-79 79 79 439. For more information about the displacement situation in Colombia, contact Arild Birkenes at IDMC, tel: +41 22 799 0708, or visit www.internal-displacement.org/countries/colombia.

Notes for Editors:

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), is the leading international body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide. (www.internal-displacement.org)

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is an independent, humanitarian non-governmental organisation which provides assistance, protection and durable solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide. (www.nrc.no)