Colombia's Indigenous Populations and Internally Displaced Obtain Identity Documents

Some 1,600 members of the Embera Chamí and DACHIDANA
indigenous communities, located in a remote region in western
Colombia, this week obtained their citizenship documents for the
first time.

The identity documents will allow these citizens access to
services such as health care, education, housing and land, as well
as subsidies for vulnerable populations awarded by the national and
local governments.

One of the consequences of the violence perpetrated by illegal
armed groups in Colombia has been the internal displacement,
uprooting and confinement to certain areas of peasant farmers,
indigenous populations and Afro-Colombian communities. 

Several reasons can be attributed for the lack of registration
amongst indigenous communities in remote areas of western Colombia:
most of these communities are located some eight hours away from
the nearest registration office; they cannot afford the travel and
registration expenses; and violence in the area hampers their

To date, the project has held 16 events around the country that
have led to the beginning of the formal identification process for
more than 85,000 persons from Afro-Colombian, peasant farmers and
indigenous communities that are either internally displaced or that
are living in vulnerable situations.

Of the total 3.623 residents of the Emebera Chami community,
2.880 have so far been registered to participate in the identity
registration project.  Before the end of the year, IOM
Colombia will reach out to the remaining 743 persons to begin the
registration process.

The IOM project has also trained 80 regional registrars now
working with the displaced and vulnerable populations, and has
strengthened the capacity of officials using the specialized
registration software. Both of  these groups are now
better prepared to respond to frequently asked questions.

"Projects like this guarantee the effective enjoyment of the
fundamental right to identity by the most vulnerable populations,
and to have access to institutional services," said Martha
Gómez, Manager of the IOM programme that provides
assistance to internally displaced and vulnerable populations.

The project, which began in April 2009, receives financial
support from the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID), and is being carried out in six departments around the
country with the support of Office of the National Registry, the
Colombian institution responsible for the identification process of
all citizens. 

Since 2000, IOM Colombia has been providing assistance to
displaced populations that have been forced to abandon their homes
and to the communities that have hosted them despite their
vulnerable living conditions.

For more information, please contact:

Natalia Vargas Meneses

IOM Colombia

Tel: +639-7777 Ext. 1733

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