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Colombia Displaced: UN 'Running For Life' Campaign

New UN 'Running for Life' campaign spotlights plight of Colombia's displaced

25 July 2008 - A new Internet-based campaign that compares forced displacement to a long-distance race which starts when people have no choice but to flee from conflict, violence or persecution is being launched today by the United Nations refugee agency and 10 other partners, to assist displaced people in Colombia.

The "Corre por la Vida" (Running for Life) campaign stresses that displacement is always forced and that nobody chooses to start on this race.

The race contains numerous hurdles along the way, ranging from finding a new home and a reliable source of income to reaching long-term security and stability.

"The internal displacement crisis in Colombia is one of the largest and oldest in the world and for many, it is also a race with no clear direction and no end in sight," Jennifer Pagonis, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists.

"The message is that every Colombian can take action to contribute to a positive outcome," she added.

By visiting, people will get practical information on how to help, examples of successful local initiatives, and testimonies from displaced people.

The site also includes a special section for private businesses and enterprises, encouraging corporate leaders and entrepreneurs to take an active role in addressing the crisis.

"While offering basic information right from the start, has been designed to encourage visitors to participate in its construction by posting their own ideas and suggestions of what works best," Ms. Pagonis noted.

According to UNHCR, Colombia enjoys one of the most sophisticated legislations on internal displacement in the world and the Government has significantly increased its budget to assist and prevent forced displacement.

At the same time, a number of challenges remain. There were some 250,000 registered new cases of forced displacement last year and more than half of all displaced people live below the poverty line. "The private sector has a crucial role to play in providing socio-economic stability to this sector of the population," said Ms. Pagonis.

The campaign is being launched today in the capital, Bogota, as well as Medellín, the country's second largest city, with a symbolic race by the campaign's organizers.


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