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Colombia: UNHCR launches "Corre por la Vida" Running for Life campaign

Briefing notes

Colombia: UNHCR launches "Corre por la Vida" Running for Life campaign

25 July 2008

UNHCR and 10 other partners are launching a nationwide campaign to help the victims of forced displacement in Colombia today (Friday), in Bogota.

The Internet-based "Corre por la Vida" (Running for Life) campaign compares forced displacement to a long-distance race, which starts when people have no choice but to flee from conflict, violence or persecution.

The race has many hurdles along the way from finding a new home and a reliable source of income to reaching long-term security and stability. The internal displacement crisis in Colombia is one of the largest and oldest in the world and for many, it is also a race with no clear direction and no end in sight.

Stressing that displacement is always forced and that nobody chooses to start on this race, "Corre por la Vida" seeks to galvanize the Colombian public and private sector to join in efforts to help. The message is that every Colombian can take action to contribute to a positive outcome.

By visiting, the Colombian public will get practical information on how to help, examples of successful local initiatives, and testimonies from displaced people. The site also includes a special section for private businesses and enterprises, encouraging corporate leaders and entrepreneurs to take an active role in addressing the crisis.

While offering basic information right from the start, has been designed to encourage visitors to participate in its construction by posting their own ideas and suggestions of what works best.

The campaign builds on the success of the 2007 Year of the Rights of Displaced People in Colombia campaign, which resulted in the adoption of a new law in favour of internally displaced people (IDPs). It addresses some identified weaknesses like the gap between legislation and effective implementation and low participation of the private sector in the national response.

Colombia enjoys one of the most sophisticated legislations on internal displacement in the world and the government has significantly increased its budget to assist and prevent forced displacement. However, challenges remain. There were some 250,000 registered new cases of forced displacement last year and more than half of all displaced people live below the poverty line. The private sector has a crucial role to play in providing socio-economic stability to this sector of the population.

Corre por la Vida will be launched Friday in Bogota and Medellín, the country's second largest city, with a symbolic race by the campaign's organizers. The widely-based coalition brings together 11 partners working in the area of forced displacement, including the presidential agency Acción Social and the national association of displaced people, as well as some of the country's most influential media and UNHCR. The campaign was developed thanks to the support of the European Commission for UNHCR operations in Colombia.