New York, NY
New York, New York – August 29, 2000. The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children today called on the Clinton Administration to grant Colombians currently residing in the United States temporary protected status (TPS) as a sign of commitment to peace and democracy in Colombia.
"For 35 years, Colombia has been plagued with civil war and, as is often the case, women and children have been disproportionately affected by this violence," said Wendy Young, Director of Government Relations and US Programs. "Recent events in Colombia, including the recent massacre of six children and the failed peace negotiations between the government and the rebels, indicate that this violence will continue unabated."
The U.S. aid package to the Colombian military will escalate the conflict and further militarize all sides, underscoring the special obligation of the US to protect innocent victims of the war. Much of the recently authorized $1.3 billion in aid will be used for the fumigation of coca crops and for fighting rebels in coca-producing regions of southern Colombia. Given that the US counter-narcotics plan will create further displacement of Colombians, it is imperative that the U.S. provide temporary protection for Colombian nationals now residing within US borders. The State Department has already stated that several thousands of people will be displaced as a result of this U.S.-funded push into southern Colombia. To return Colombian nationals to a country already suffering massive displacement would further destabilize a fragile situation.
Colombia clearly meets the criteria for TPS designation under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Due to the ongoing armed conflict in their homeland, which has caused massive displacement of families and thousands of massacres, kidnappings, and disappearances, Colombian nationals in the U.S. who return home will face serious threats to their personal safety.
"Other countries in the region, such as Ecuador and Venezuela, have already demonstrated a reluctance to accept Colombian refugees who cross their borders," said Young. "By providing TPS to Colombians, the United States will set an important example for its international partners and increase their willingness to offer protection themselves."
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children is the only organization in the United States dedicated solely to speaking out on behalf of refugee women and children. It provides expertise in the areas of reproductive health, protection and participation, asylum issues and refugee children and adolescents, Currently there are almost 34 million refugees and internally displaced civilians worldwide--80 percent of whom are women and children.
The Women’s Commission was founded in 1989 under the auspices of the International Rescue Committee, the leading U.S. nonsectarian voluntary agency devoted to the cause of refugees.