FORTES: strengthening care and integration of internally displaced persons in Columbia

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Caquetá Department

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Main actors

City Government, Regional Government, Supranational / Intergovernmental Institutions, Community / Citizen Group, other

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Project area

Metropolitan Area

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Ongoing since 2014/08

Strengthening support services, improving economic opportunities and facilitating integration of internally displaced persons in Caquetá Department, Columbia.

The province of Caquetá, located in the Amazonas region, is one of the areas most strongly affected by the armed conflict that has been on-going for more than five decades in Columbia.

Legal uncertainty, acts of violence and the recruitment of child soldiers have caused many families to flee the provinces and move to the city. However, lack of economic opportunities, support services and stigmatization by the community make it difficult for the victims of this disruption to integrate with their new city environment.

In conjunction with the Government of Caquetá Department, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is managing the FORTES programme to improve care services, create employment opportunities and facilitate the integration of internally displaced persons into the community.

Originally published by the International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development CONNECTIVE CITIES:

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Caquetá Department, Colombia

Size and population development
The most recent census conducted in 2005 recorded the population as 404,896. Other sources, including the World Bank, report the 2013 population as 465,477.

Population composition
Columbia is ethnically diverse, its people descend from the original indigenous inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans originally brought to the country as slaves and 20th century immigrants predominately from Europe and the Middle East. While Spanish is the official language, there are 65 Indigenous languages and two Creole languages spoken.

Main functions
Caquetá is a department of Colombia, located in the Amazonas region, the capital city is Florencia. Caquetá borders with the departments of Cauca and Huila to the west, the department of Meta to the north, the department of Guaviare to the northeast, the department of Vaupés to the east, and the departments of Amazonas and Putumayo to the south.

Main industries / business
The region is known for its cedar, mahogany, rubber, ipecac, and other trees. Tropical plants, bananas and other fruits are cultivated in the lowlands, and corn (maize) predominates in the highlands. Cattle raising is widespread around the department capital, Florencia.

Sources for city budget
National Government, Department Government and taxation revenue.

Political structure
Colombia is a unitary republic formed by thirty-two departments and a capital district. Each department has a Governor and a Department Assembly, elected by popular vote for a four-year period. The Governor cannot be re-elected in consecutive periods.

Administrative structure
Departments are country subdivisions formed by a grouping of municipalities. Granted a certain degree of autonomy, a municipal government is headed by a mayor and administered by a municipal council elected for four-year periods.

In excess of 220,000 people are currently registered as victims of internal displacement in Caquetá, while tens of thousands more remain unregistered.  The majority are concentrated in Florencia, the Caquetá Department’s capital city. The integration of victims into their new surroundings is made difficult by a number of factors including limited opportunities to improve their living and employment conditions, the poor prospects of returning home in the near future and social stigma.

The objectives of the FORTES programme are:

  • improve the coordination of government and non-government organisations providing victim support
  • ensure care and integration opportunities reach victims more effectively
  • increase the number of registered victims and the amount of government support provided
  • provide training and links to employers to facilitate access to job opportunities for both victims and other disadvantaged groups of the population
  • administer financial subsides and support to individuals who go into business or are self employed

The FORTES programme is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the lead agency for the project is the Government of Caquetá Department. Most of FORTES’s work is carried out in Florencia, where the majority of internally displaced persons, an estimated 70,000, live.

The programme is designed to help victims of the continuing armed conflict and other disadvantaged groups gain access to legal employment contracts by providing training and facilitating contact with employers. Support is also provided to those people who want to start their own business.

The focus of the programme is to establish a central victim support service point that is run jointly by the key state actors and overseen by Florencia City Hall. Information services together with access to state aid and non-state support are organised via this service point.

The programme also contributes to finding non-violent solutions to social conflict by providing mediation services and psychological care for vicitms.

The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has contributed an amount of €2,466,000 to the FORTES programme.

The Victims and Land Restitution law signed by President Juan Manuel Santos on June 10, 2011, aims to return stolen and abandoned land to internally displaced Colombians and provide reparations - including financial compensation - to victims of human rights violations and infractions of international humanitarian law. Due largely to support from the FORTES programme, theimplementation of this law is now coordinated much more effectively by the departmental and local governments in Caquetá.

The committee for transitional justice, which is responsible for victim support and compensation, is fulfilling its mandate and, through training, has improved the services it offers victims of conflict. The victim support service point in Florencia is also providing better service as a result of reorganisation measures implemented by the programme.

More than 3,500 victims of conflict – two thirds of whom are women or members of women-led households – have increased their income through employment or self-employment. They have successfully taken part in training and employment promotion activities which were supported by the programme. In addition, more than 100 young people have found employment in Florencia through a programme initiated by the Ministry of Labour.

Cooperatives, farmers’ organisations, victims’ associations and state institutions have accessed to government funding with guidance from the programme.

Owing to a lack of acceptance from the local community and inadequate information or shortcomings in the support offered by government agencies, many people do not register as internally displaced persons for fear of again falling victim to violence and displacement

Victims must be listed on the Internally Displace Persons registry to take advantage of the services the government is required to provide by law. However, even registered people may not benefit from these services due to insufficient coordination of the institutions involved in the national support system for victims.

The FORTES programme is improving care for internally displaced persons as well as assisting with their social and economic integration. Additionally, FORTES is supporting the development of economic opportunities for other disadvantaged groups of the population. Overall, the programme is making an important contribution to resolving social conflicts and strengthening the economic prosperity of the community in the Province of Caquetá.

- FORTES: Strengthening care and integration of internally displaced persons in Colombia, (accessed 25 november 2016)

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