Most of the world's refugees do not flee abroad, but instead must seek protection in their own country. These people are referred to as “internally displaced persons”. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), internally displaced persons make up the majority (37 million) of the 63 million refugees registered worldwide. The reasons for flight are often the same: escaping the consequences of armed conflict, general violence, human rights violations, or natural or man-made catastrophes. In contrast to refugees crossing international state borders, internally displaced persons are often not protected by international treaties. Their country of origin is responsible for protecting them, but it’s a task countries often can not or will not carry out (UNHCR).
Along with Syria, Colombia is the country with the highest number of internally displaced persons.
“No debe pasarle a nadie en este mundo“ (“Nobody should have to go through something like this”). With these words, Jaminton begins to tell the story of his family's flight. In 1995, they left their home in Colombia after gunmen terrorized their village and shot 25 people. When Jaminton’s brother began receiving death threats, their mother decided they should flee. At the time, Jaminton was 15 years old. They went to Quibdó, the capital of the Chocó province. There, Jaminton was forced to beg on the street. When the Spanish Red Cross founded the “Villa España” district in order to provide accommodation to about 600 refugee families, Jaminton's family moved in as well. What was meant to be a temporary shelter became their permanent home for 16 years.
In the short film, Jaminton and his partner Yannia talk about how the situation also deteriorated in their new home. New residents moved in and facilitated prostitution, violence and drug trade. In response, the pair founded AJODENIU (Asociación de Jóvenes Desplazados Nueva Imagen en Unión), a project aimed at helping young refugees. But even their youth work could not stop the rising violence in their neighbourhood, and they finally had to leave their new home as well. Although they now live in another part of the city, they both remain committed to AJODENIU's projects and the people of Villa España.
A civil war between the government, rebel groups like FARC and paramilitary forces raged in Colombia for over 50 years. During this period, over 6.5 million Colombians were forced to leave their homes. The vast majority sought refuge within their country’s borders.
The peace treaty between the government and FARC was ratified at the end of 2016 and gave hope that things might change for the better. Bojayá, in the Chocó region, was the site of one of the country's bloodiest massacres during the period of conflict. In 2002, a bomb detonated in a church sheltering over 600 people who had fled violence between FARC and paramilitary groups. More than 100 people, many of them children, died in the blast. This massacre, for which FARC has since begged forgiveness, is only one particularly shocking example of the violence inflicted on the people of Chocó by various armed groups.
This region, home primarily to Afro-Colombians and Indigenous people, is one of the poorest and hardest hit by violence in Colombia. Both guerrillas and paramilitary groups were fighting for control of the land, which is resource-rich and in a strategically important location for the drug trade.
Despite the peace treaty between the government and FARC, the situation remains precarious in large parts of the region as armed groups try to gain control over formerly FARC-controlled areas and illegal economies. Thus, the displacement Yannia and Jaminto experienced is a fate that still threatens people in Chocó and other regions of the country. Whether Colombia will carry out its duty to guarantee the safety of its citizens and improve their living conditions in light of the peace treaty remains to be seen.
Contact: Lothar Witte, Head of Office Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Colombia
Short Film Program: “People in Motion” – Why do People leave their Homes? What Paths do they Take?
In cooperation with local partners, the FES international offices produced a short film program that deals with these questions. The films are available on our TOPIC pages “Flight, Migration, Integration”. Please feel free to use them for your own events.
The Route was never the Destination. “We have become migrants....but one day we will arrive.” Short film about a Cuban family that had to flee their country.
Return. In the 90s Lana Mayer fled Croatia for Germany. Now she has returned to Vukovar. This film tells her story.
Move. Three people leave their homes and end up in Namibia. In the short movie “Move”, they reflect upon migration, European double standards and imbalances of power.
The Rainbow-Center of Gaziantep. “Exile offers the chance of overcoming the shadow of violence”. A short film on Syrian dissidents caring for traumatized children.
Caught in the Middle – Migration in Ethiopia. “I do not want my children to live in fear, like I did”. A short film about Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.
Chaught in the Middle, Part 2. Elsa's husband, Yosef, has arrived in Sweden. He has not yet been able to bring his family. Part 2 of the short film “ Between Two Stools”.
Unseen Shadows - Those who are left behind. A short film on the challenges of women and families in India, whose men have migrated in search of work.
Cyber-Mom. A short film about three children from Central American El Salvador who are raised by their grandparents because their parents have migrated to the USA for work.
Asfur - Syrian Refugees in Turkey. "Asfur" gives an insight into the life situation of Syrians who had to flee from the war zone Syria and now living in Hatay (Turkey).
Nowhere Man - Pakistani Refugees in South Korea are fighting for Recognition. The A. Family has fled from Pakistan to South Korea, 6000 miles away. A story that also deals with South Korean asylum policy.
Behind the Sea. The film deals with the story of four Algerians who left their homeland for various reasons and returned to Algeria after a certain time. [only available in german]