COLOMBIA: Ex-Combatants Receive Job Training in Road Safety and Business Management

Friday, July 2, 2010
South America
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IOM is supporting the social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants through employment training in road safety and business management skills.

Under an agreement signed between IOM Colombia and the "Fondo de Prevención Vial" or Fund for Transport Safety, about USD $763,000 will be allocated to recruiting and training demobilized members of illegal armed groups, as civilian auxiliaries for a Colombian highway safety and assistance programme. The Fund is a private sector organization working in coordination with Colombian government institutions such as the Ministry of Transport and the National Police.

Through the SALVAVÍAS program initiated in 2006, hundreds of men and women involved in the social reintegration process have been recruited and trained to help in preventing accidents on the country's principal roads.

"The fact that these ex- combatants have chosen to become civilian auxiliaries is a demonstration of their firm commitment to civil society", states José Ángel Oropeza, Chief of Mission of IOM Colombia.

In the northern mountain region of Montes de Maria, 250 farm-working families in eight towns which have been heavily affected by violence from illegal armed groups have signed an agreement to supply produce for Carrefour, one of the largest supermarket chains in Colombia.

The agreement marks an initial success for the avocado producers and their families, beneficiaries of an IOM program training the farmers on optimal crop handling and business organization. The initiative has improved quality standards in order to meet those demanded by supermarkets, expanding the market and earning potential for these families; the growers who previously received an average of 100-400 pesos per kilo of avocados, will earn 2,300 per kilo through the agreement.

"The economic stability of the victims of the violence is very important for their welfare, as is their psychological and social recovery. Therefore it is a great pleasure for us to develop projects that achieve significant commercial success like this one", says Oropeza.

Since 2006 IOM has assisted the Government of Colombia to reintegrate 51,000 demobilized members of illegal armed groups, through the Program of Support for the Community Focused Reintegration Process, and with funding from the US Agency for International Development. One of the key elements of the reintegration process is income generation and employment for those who have been demobilized as well as for the victims of violence and the host communities.