UN agency signs agreement with Colombia to strengthen refugee laws

UN agency signs agreement with Colombia to strengthen refugee laws

The United Nations refugee agency has signed a landmark agreement with Colombia to strengthen the capacity of the country's authorities to legislate on internal displacement issues and protect the rights of asylum seekers.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the agreement, signed yesterday, was designed to reinforce Colombia's Senate and its Human Rights Commission. UNHCR will cooperate with the two bodies to promote and disseminate legislation for both internally displaced persons (IDPs) and international refugees.

"UNHCR heralds this agreement as an important contribution to the protection of the rights of IDPs in Colombia and welcomes the Senate and the Human Rights Commission's commitment to take effective action to prevent forced displacement and to protect and assist those who have been forced out of their homes by the conflict," UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva today.

The agency will provide advice and specialized training for members of the Senate and other relevant institutions, Mr. Janowski added. UNHCR will also advise on mechanisms to protect the rights of those displaced within Colombia and prevent forced displacement.

According to official government statistics, there are nearly one million IDPs in Colombia, while unofficial statistics put the figure close to 3 million, the spokesman said.