According to recent statements by the UN, there are currently over 400,000 displaced Colombians seeking refuge abroad, local media reported Monday.
At a forum held in Bogota, a representative of the UN High Commission for Human Rights revealed that Colombia ranks among the top ten countries for displaced persons, El Colombiano reported Monday.
Over 400,000 Colombians have been forced to flee from their home country due to violent conflict, said Martin Gottwald of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Colombia (ACNUR).
The migrants face discrimination in addition to lack of guarantees regarding health care, housing, and employment, the UN researchers told forum attendees.
In December 2013, ACNUR released a report stating that 327,000 Colombians had fled across the border in search of international protection, the largest percentage of which escaped to Ecuador.
Out of a total of 54,000 refugees trying to establish a life in Ecuador, 98% are Colombian, reported national newspaper El Colombiano,
In an effort to aid the displaced migrants in Ecuador, the International Organization of Migration (OIM) has implemented a resettlement program for the placement of Colombians in a third country.
“Apart from the resettlement program, we attempt voluntary repatriation, but considering the situation of internal conflict in Colombia, this option is not possible,” OIM representative Argentina Santacruz said.
Since 2010, Colombia has recognized that the displacement is not only an internal issue, and that many Colombians are looking abroad for safety, El Colombiano reported.
“This was a big challenge before, because [the government] considered internationally displaced persons to as economic migrants rather than victims of armed conflict,” said Gottwald.
Colombian news source Pulzo reported that Colombia has the eighth largest percentage of its national population living as refugees, behind Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Congo, and Myanmar.
At least 12% of Colombia’s 47 million people are victims of forced displacement, according to an Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) report published in May.
Of the approximately 6.3 million people in Latin America who have been forced to flee their homes due to war or violence, 5.7 million were Colombian. Colombia, still embroiled in a complicated 50-year armed conflict between leftist guerrillas, the state, and right-wing paramilitary groups, was one of the five countries that accounted for 78% of the world’s total living displacement victims as of 2013, according to the IDMC. The IDMC pointed out that its statistics do not take into account the many Colombians killed or “disappeared” during armed conflict.
- UNHCR ACNUR Colombia – General context December 2013 (ACNUR)
- Hay 400.000 colombianos refugiados en el extranjero: Acnur (El Colombiano)
- Al menos 400.000 colombianos viven como refugiados en el extranjero: ONU (Pulzo)
- Global Overview 2014: People Internally Displaced By Conflict And Violence (IDMC Report)