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Cablegate: Ombudsman and Unhcr Open "House of Rights" In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

071528Z Oct 05

UNCLAS BOGOTA 009565

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM AND WHA/AND; GENEVA FOR CAMPBELL AND
BIRDSALL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM SOCI CO
SUBJECT: OMBUDSMAN AND UNHCR OPEN "HOUSE OF RIGHTS" IN
ALTOS DE CAZUCA


1. The national Ombudsman inaugurated a "casa de los
derechos" (house of rights) in the Altos de Cazuca
neighborhood of Soacha, with support from the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on September 29. Based on
a model used by the UN in El Salvador, the office establishes
the first official national and local government presence in
the impoverished neighborhood some 12 miles south of Bogota.
Residents will have access to the local and national
Ombudsman, national agencies for family welfare, training,
assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), local
government planning and education agencies, and a medical
clinic.

2. With an estimated population of 363,000, Soacha is one of
the top places where new IDPs settle in the Bogota area. The
Government has officially registered 18,000 IDPs in Soacha
since 1995. Traditionally a neighborhood of guerrilla
influence (the Government resettled many demobilized M-19 and
EPL guerrillas in Soacha in the late 1980s and early 1990s),
UNHCR and the local ombudsman report that criminal gangs and
the militias of the so-called "Bloque Capital" paramilitary
group have gained more control in the zone.

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3. UNHCR Resident Representative Roberto Meier said criminal
gangs control access to water and electricity in some parts
of the neighborhood and supporters of guerrilla and
paramilitary groups are reported to impose roadblocks,
restrict parties after a certain time of night, murder, and
forcibly recruit young people in the area. UNHCR reports
that between 2001-2004, 437 people were murdered, 244 of whom
were between the ages of 16-20.

4. Because of the vulnerability of the population, and the
large concentration of IDPs, the UN opened an office in Altos
de Cazuca in February 2005. Meier said at the time the
intention was not to replace the Colombian state but to
provide protection and draw attention to the problems in the
area. The "casa de los derechos" in Altos de Cazuca is
expected to provide needy residents with easier access to
government ombudsman, health, and social welfare agencies.
UNHCR hopes to open more "casa de los derechos" offices in
collaboration with the GOC in other parts of the country.
WOOD

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