As a result of the violence perpetuated by guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, and the Colombian army, thousands of people annually, especially those living in rural areas of Colombia, are forced to flee to neighboring countries in search of safe haven. For more than a decade, HIAS has worked on the ground in Panama and Venezuela to provide safe environments for these refugees so they can heal, stabilize, and rebuild their lives. Integration is a challenge for refugees in both countries.
HIAS’ long-term goal is to help refugees, the majority of whom will stay in the countries where they have sought refuge indefinitely, build new lives. We provide them with immediate humanitarian assistance and skill-building programs so that they can ultimately become self-sufficient. Our psychosocial program helps them deal with the trauma of their displacement and supports them as they try to integrate into the local population.
HIAS has urged the U.S. State Department to increase resettlement opportunities for Colombian refugees in Panama and fund efforts aimed at integrating Colombian refugees into society.