En ung tjej i vit tröja står framför ett blommande träd.

Daniela Castillo lost both her parents in the armed conflict in Colombia. Ten years on, getting back her parents’ land means a lot to her.

Photo: Sida

A SAMPLE OF RESULTS

Internally displaced persons compensated after decades in flight

Updated: 12 May 2017

After many years at an orphanage, Daniela Castillo has got back the land her parents lost during the civil war in Colombia. She is one of thousands of farmers who are now being compensated after being driven from their homes.

After many years at an orphanage, Daniela Castillo has got back the land her parents lost during the civil war in Colombia. She is one of thousands of farmers who are now being compensated after being driven from their homes.

For over 50 years, Colombia's population has suffered from the effects of the internal armed conflict the country has seen. The civil war has resulted in almost seven million Colombians being forced to flee their homes since 1985.

A first step on the road to recognising these people's suffering was taken in 2011 when the Colombian parliament adopted a law that came to be called "Ley de Victimas" or "the Law on the victims of war". It is intended to help those who have been forced to flee their homes to get back their land, and also to ensure that victims are financially compensated for the suffering to which they have been subjected.

Via Sida, Sweden has endeavoured to bring Colombia a state institution that will work to enforce the law. Through the law this has become a reality. Today, the new authority, the Land Restitution Unit, is working actively for people who have been forced to flee to receive fair treatment and be compensated for the years they have been in flight.

In September 2016, the authority had received more than 90,000 applications from Colombian farmers who have all been driven from their lands. About 12,000 applications have reached court, and of these one third has been awarded compensation. This has led to nearly 192,000 hectares of land being returned to their original owners. Much work remains before all the victims have been compensated.

Daniela Castillo is one of all those who have received support through the new law. She lost both her parents in the armed conflict, and eight years old, she was placed in an orphanage. Ten years on, getting back her parents’ land means a lot to her. She now has ownership and, along with more than 800 other households, has received help through a programme supported by Sweden.

“Since the Land Restitution Unit came to the village, we’ve seen a lot of positive things. Thanks to Sweden's support for the project, all the farmers in the village of La Secreta Magdalena have been able to get together and form an association where we produce high-quality organic coffee,” says Daniela.

Among other bodies, Sweden supports the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which works to create sustainable income-generating activities in rural Colombia. About 3500 people have participated in the project, and almost half of the active participants have been women.

This has enabled farmers to return to their homes, start up agriculture and so support themselves and improve their living conditions. Part of the project has involved veterinarians and agronomists teaching farmers sustainable agriculture, and this has improved the welfare of their animals.

“Despite the drought, this year we’ve succeeded much better with our cattle than last year. I can’t believe it's true,” smiles Daniela.

The work with victims of the conflict has also led to people in Colombia now having greater trust in state institutions and to it being possible to begin rebuilding the structure of society in the affected areas.


Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

  • tip a friend
  • share
Tip a Friend heading