BOGOTA – The head of the United Nations Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, said on Saturday that signing the peace pact between the Colombian government and the FARC is a chance for the almost 7 million displaced persons in the country to “completely reintegrate” into society.
“It’s an opportunity to find solutions for the millions of displaced persons and war victims in this country. It’s also a chance to make sure they completely reintegrate into the society they rightfully belong to,” Grandi said after a visit to a poor neighborhood in the town of Soacha, near Bogota, where hundreds of the displaced live.
The official also said that Colombia is now living in a “historic” moment, given that peace negotiations between the government and the FARC are entering their final stage after the signing of an accord on the “end of the conflict,” which includes a bilateral, indefinite cease-fire.
In that sense, Grandi said the UNHCR “will continue to accompany” all the dealings with internally displaced persons in Colombia, especially those with special needs,” such as Afro-Colombians, indigenous communities and women who have been victims of sexual violence.
Asked about the steps to follow for the reintegration of those forced to leave their homes, he said the first step, which “will take a few years,” is to make sure there are no more displaced persons, though he acknowledged that some want to stay where they are.
For these unfortunate people to be considered “no longer displaced, they must have access to services, schools and healthcare,” Grandi said.