Posted by: bklunk | November 13, 2006


Here’s something from s-berg: Kegley and Raymond identify refugee situations as one of the principal human rights problems in contemporary international relations.  But like much in the human-rights issue area, dealing with refugee situations assumes that there are state actors with whom to deal.  This situation seems to highlight the difficulties when the state in question is not effective.


As I have been reading about the struggles
of refugees and IDPs in the publications of many international organizations
concerned with refugee issues, I kept hearing about the mass movements of
people in Colombia.  Some of the people
make it to Ecuador (about 250,000), and are considered refugees, while 3
million people remain internally displaced within Colombia.  The UNHCR and other humanitarian
organizations to not have access to the regions from which people are

The situation in Colombia stems from
warring drug cartels in the countryside. 
The government of Colombia has very little power in the internal
regions, and there is therefore no structure to protect people from the will of
these warring factions.  The warlords
are powerful, and they use violence to keep both the government and
humanitarian groups out of their territories. 
Since there is no other governing structure present, the people that
live in these towns in the center of the country are vulnerable to the wills of
the cartels, and most are forced to join one or the other for protection.  Young boys are drafted into the groups
without ever having the chance to be educated, and there is very little hope
for them to deny a group since they might be killed when refusing to join.  If someone does not join the organization,
and manages to do so without being initially killed, they are still subject to
be killed by the other factions, since nothing is protecting them.  Those who try to flee are often killed.

This problem is massive and complicated,
because so many people are caught up in this web of violence.  The UNHCR sends pleas to the cartels asking
them to respect the peoples’ freedom of movement, so that more IDPs or even
just unhappy people can make it to a border and be eligable for refugee
status.  The solution is difficult to
forsee, and life looks pretty bleak for the people in the Colombian

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