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Colombia: Landmark agreement signed

Briefing notes

Colombia: Landmark agreement signed

16 May 2003

UNHCR signed on Thursday (15 May) a landmark agreement to strengthen the Senate of the Republic of Colombia and its Human Rights Commission. The agreement, signed by the President of the Senate, the President and Vice-president of the Senate's Human Rights Commission and the UNHCR Representative in Colombia, is designed to reinforce the Senate and the Commission's capacity to legislate on internal displacement issues.

Under this agreement, UNHCR will co-operate with the Senate and the Commission in the promotion and dissemination of national and international refugee and internal displacement legislation, and will provide advice and specialised training for members of the Senate and other relevant institutions. UNHCR will also advise the Senate on the design of mechanisms to protect the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia, to prevent forced displacement and to provide comprehensive assistance to displaced persons.

UNHCR heralds this agreement as an important contribution to the protection of the rights of IDPs in Colombia and welcomes the Senate and the Human Rights Commission's commitment to take effective action to prevent forced displacement and to protect and assist those who have been forced out of their homes by the conflict.

According to official government statistics, there are nearly one million IDPs in Colombia, while unofficial NGO statistics put the figure close to 3 million.