Aid to Colombia’s displaced population increased to $814 million in 2009, President Alvaro Uribe announced this Monday.
The Head of State stressed that aid has grown from about $40 million at the beginning of Uribe’s first term. The funds will go to health and social programs like Familias en Accion, as well as housing subsidies. This includes $5 million for refugees trying to return to their places of origin, as well two new housing programs for displaced people in the southern Guaviare department.
Uribe added that in the last few years the military has helped nearly 70,000 families return to their homes.
Displacement figures have long been a politically sensitive matter in Colombia. The government’s official estimate is 3.2 million. A recent government report found there was a 56% percent drop in displacement rates from 2008 to 2009, but has been contested by human rights organizations.
One human rights group, CODHES, has put displacement figures at 4.5 million, and has accused the government of downplaying numbers and ignoring increasing rates of urban displacement.