Bogota, 19 October 2020 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has donated 28 laptops to Colombian civil society organizations to support their crucial work on missing persons.
The donation to 26 organizations, concluded earlier this month, will enable the organizations to continue their advocacy and other work on missing persons despite distancing and isolation measures taken by Colombia in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The donation, which also includes access to internet, was made with financial support from the European Union.
The recipient organizations are based in 12 departments, in most cases far from major cities. They will use the laptops to promote and strengthen the engagement and participation of families with missing relatives in the process to account for missing persons. The laptops also enable them to take part in activities organized by the Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD) and other state institutions.
Rocío Granja whose Family Association ADIV is active in Nariño said the donated laptop will allow her organization to remain connected with families of the missing in different parts of Colombia despite challenges and difficulties created by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Having this technological tool is strengthening our collective actions as we have more access to information and trainings,” she said.
UBPD estimates that 120,000 persons are missing in Colombia, following the country’s more than five decades of armed conflict. Civil society organizations working on the issue are located in all parts of Colombia – more detail is available in an ICMP report (in Spanish.)
Several of the recipient organizations have until now not had access to IT equipment, and the laptops will enable them to strengthen their IT literacy skills and capacity to operate in virtual environments.
“The involvement of civil society organizations and families of the missing is key to successful efforts to account for the missing,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “They must have access to the tools they need to conduct their work safely. Accounting for the missing is an investment in peace – and it is work that must continue, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The organizations that received laptops are based in the departments of Antioquia,
Arauca, Atlántico, Bolivar, Casanare, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Santander and Tolima.
Colombia’s 2016 Peace Agreement mandates ICMP to support the Search Unit’s and Colombia´s efforts to account for missing persons. ICMP has been assisting Colombia since 2019 through supporting the work of the Search Unit, and the participation of civil society organizations, particularly families of the missing.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.