Media @ McGill

Lorenzo Vargas | Communication Processes for Settlement and Integration of Colombian IDPs and Refugees

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According to the UNHCR, Colombia is facing one of the most difficult humanitarian situations in the Americas as a result of its internal armed conflict. In recent years, the dynamics of the conflict have changed significantly as a result of a demobilization process, the strengthening of the state security forces, and the continuity of drug trafficking organized crime (1) (2). This has resulted in at least 3.5 million of internally displaced people, and hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers in third countries such as Ecuador and Costa Rica.

In the first part of my research, I will examine the communication processes inherent to a number of settlement and integration efforts of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Colombia, and Colombian refugees in neighbouring Ecuador, Canada, and possibly a third country.  The project will map out the different approaches to communication used by a variety of stakeholders in the IDP and refugee resettlement process, including government, NGOs and civil society, and international organizations such as UNHCR and UNDP, and identify their objectives, effectiveness, role within the larger context of the conflict.

In the second part of the research, I will examine media products created by members of the Colombian diaspora, and, where available, by groups of IDPs, and analyze discourses of development, representation, and political change within these products. I will devote special attention to the representation of IDPs and refugees in these media products, hoping to better understand how media representations impacts their chances of successful resettlement, integration, and eventual return to their places of origin.