Vicente (76) sits in the sun. He explains the merits of the handmade basket his people have made for generations. It’s his job to teach his great grandson Andreas to make traditional handicrafts.

“All young people must learn,” he says. “They should all learn as I did before.”

But many of the old handicrafts that are traditional to the Jiw are dying out. The community has been uprooted from its ancestral land time and again because of the conflict. With each displacement, a little of their unique culture and traditions are lost. 

In 2009, the Government classified the Jiw as one of the country’s 30 endangered tribes.

Forty years displaced
Some of the 17 families in this small community in El Salado have been displaced by violence since 1970.

Vicente, his daughter Luzdary (66) and Andreas are three generations of Jiw that have finally returned to their ancestral lands. They are part of a group that the Norwegian Refugee Council has helped to return to a place they can finally call home. 

Traditionally a hunting tribe, Andreas proudly shows off a spear he uses for hunting. 

“There are fewer animals nowadays than before though, and the men in the community must walk up to 8 hours when they go to hunt meat to feed the community,” says Andreas.

Andreas wants to work with computers when he finishes school. “People who work on computers make more money,” he laughs.

Vicente recognizes that the numbers of their people are falling. “Some families were as big as 50 people before,” he recalls. “But now are as small as 30. They left for the towns.”

Neglected communities
A peace deal signed in Colombia in 2016 paved the way for the country to rebuild, after the decades-long war. 

International organizations are keen to support, and funding is coming in for development projects like strengthening peace. However, small communities like the Jiw who are in humanitarian need have been somewhat neglected. 

Building a future
The Norwegian Refugee Council has been working with the Jiw Community in the Guaviare region since September 2015. We are helping to rebuild homes for hundreds of displaceden, women and children returning to their ancestral lands. We provide free legal counseling so that people know their rights on land issues. We also support children to return to school.

Date: February 2017
Photo credit: NRC / Michelle Delaney
Text: michelle.delaney@nrc.no

Colombia’s disappearing tribe

The Jiw community is one of the poorest and most vulnerable indigenous groups in Colombia. It’s estimated that only about 3,000 of their people are alive today. Their numbers are dangerously falling as conflict has displaced their community multiple times over the country’s 50-year war.

Vicente sits in the sun with his great-grandson Andreas. He explains the importance of the handmade basket his people have made for generations. It’s his job to teach Andreas to make traditional handicrafts.

“All young people must learn,” he says. “They should all learn as I did before.”

But many of the old handicrafts that are traditional to the Jiw are dying out. The community has been uprooted from its ancestral land time and again because of the conflict. With each displacement, a little of their unique culture and traditions are lost.

In 2009, the Government classified the Jiw as one of the country’s 30 endangered tribes.

Vicente (76) sits in the sun. He explains the merits of the handmade basket his people have made for generations. It’s his job to teach his great grandson Andreas to make traditional handicrafts.

“All young people must learn,” he says. “They should all learn as I did before.”

But many of the old handicrafts that are traditional to the Jiw are dying out. The community has been uprooted from its ancestral land time and again because of the conflict. With each displacement, a little of their unique culture and traditions are lost. 

In 2009, the Government classified the Jiw as one of the country’s 30 endangered tribes.

Forty years displaced
Some of the 17 families in this small community in El Salado have been displaced by violence since 1970.

Vicente, his daughter Luzdary (66) and Andreas are three generations of Jiw that have finally returned to their ancestral lands. They are part of a group that the Norwegian Refugee Council has helped to return to a place they can finally call home. 

Traditionally a hunting tribe, Andreas proudly shows off a spear he uses for hunting. 

“There are fewer animals nowadays than before though, and the men in the community must walk up to 8 hours when they go to hunt meat to feed the community,” says Andreas.

Andreas wants to work with computers when he finishes school. “People who work on computers make more money,” he laughs.

Vicente recognizes that the numbers of their people are falling. “Some families were as big as 50 people before,” he recalls. “But now are as small as 30. They left for the towns.”

Neglected communities
A peace deal signed in Colombia in 2016 paved the way for the country to rebuild, after the decades-long war. 

International organizations are keen to support, and funding is coming in for development projects like strengthening peace. However, small communities like the Jiw who are in humanitarian need have been somewhat neglected. 

Building a future
The Norwegian Refugee Council has been working with the Jiw Community in the Guaviare region since September 2015. We are helping to rebuild homes for hundreds of displaceden, women and children returning to their ancestral lands. We provide free legal counseling so that people know their rights on land issues. We also support children to return to school.

Date: February 2017
Photo credit: NRC / Michelle Delaney
Text: michelle.delaney@nrc.no
Read caption Vincente (right) shows off a traditional basket made by the Jiw indigenous community to his great-grandson Andreas (left). Photo: Michelle Delaney/NRC
All young people must learn.
Vicente, member of the indigenous Jiw community in Colombia

Forty years displaced

Some of the 17 families in this small community in El Salado have been displaced by violence since 1970.

Vicente, his daughter Luzdary and Andreas are three generations of Jiw that have finally returned to their ancestral lands. They are part of a group that the Norwegian Refugee Council has helped to return to a place they can finally call home.

Traditionally a hunting tribe, Andreas proudly shows off a spear he uses for hunt animals.

“There are fewer animals nowadays than before though, and the men in the community must walk up to 8 hours when they go to hunt meat to feed our families,” says Andreas.

L-R: David Garcia and Vicente (76) sit in the sun. Vicente explains the merits of the handmade basket his people have made for generations. It’s his job to teach his great grandson Andreas to make traditional handicrafts.

“All young people must learn,” he says. “They should all learn as I did before.”

But many of the old handicrafts that are traditional to the Jiw are dying out. The community has been uprooted from its ancestral land time and again because of the conflict. With each displacement, a little of their unique culture and traditions are lost. 

In 2009, the Government classified the Jiw as one of the country’s 30 endangered tribes.

Forty years displaced
Some of the 17 families in this small community in El Salado have been displaced by violence since 1970.

Vicente, his daughter Luzdary (66) and Andreas are three generations of Jiw that have finally returned to their ancestral lands. They are part of a group that the Norwegian Refugee Council has helped to return to a place they can finally call home. 

Neglected communities
A peace deal signed in Colombia in 2016 paved the way for the country to rebuild, after the decades-long war. 

International organizations are keen to support, and funding is coming in for development projects like strengthening peace. However, small communities like the Jiw who are in humanitarian need have been somewhat neglected. 

Building a future
The Norwegian Refugee Council has been working with the Jiw Community in the Guaviare region since September 2015. We are helping to rebuild homes for hundreds of displaceden, women and children returning to their ancestral lands. We provide free legal counseling so that people know their rights on land issues. We also support children to return to school.

Date: February 2017
Photo credit: NRC / Michelle Delaney
Text: michelle.delaney@nrc.no
Read caption NRC's communications adviser in Colombia, David Garcia, listens to Vicente talking about the tradition handicrafts of the Jiw community. Photo: Michelle Delaney/NRC
Some families were as big as 50 people before, but now are as small as 30. They left for the towns.
Vicente, 76

Andreas wants to work with computers when he finishes school.

“People who work on computers make more money,” he laughs.
Vicente recognizes that the numbers of their people are falling. “Some families were as big as 50 people before,” he recalls. “But now are as small as 30. They left for the towns.”

Neglected communities

A peace deal signed in Colombia in 2016 paved the way for the country to rebuild, after the decades-long war. International organisations are keen to support, and funding is coming in for development projects like strengthening peace. However, small communities like the Jiw who are in humanitarian need have been somewhat neglected.

Despite the peace agreement, indigenous communities continue to be displaced. Six massive displacements have been recorded in the first 40 days of 2017 - and over half the affected people belong to indigenous communities. Continued commitment is needed from the international community to help protect these people.

In spite peace talks taking place nearly five years, most of the Jiw are not even aware the talks have happened.

Vincente and his family stand in their garden.

Vicente (left, red top), his daughter Luzdary (middle, beige top) and Andreas (right, blue top) are three generations of Jiw that have finally returned to their ancestral lands. They are part of a group that the Norwegian Refugee Council has helped to return to a place they can finally call home. 

Traditionally a hunting tribe, Andreas proudly shows off a spear he uses for hunting. 

“There are fewer animals nowadays than before though, and the men in the community must walk up to 8 hours when they go to hunt meat to feed the community,” says Andreas.

Andreas wants to work with computers when he finishes school. “People who work on computers make more money,” he laughs.

Vicente recognizes that the numbers of their people are falling. “Some families were as big as 50 people before,” he recalls. “But now are as small as 30. They left for the towns.”

Neglected communities
A peace deal signed in Colombia in 2016 paved the way for the country to rebuild, after the decades-long war. 

International organizations are keen to support, and funding is coming in for development projects like strengthening peace. However, small communities like the Jiw who are in humanitarian need have been somewhat neglected. 

Building a future
The Norwegian Refugee Council has been working with the Jiw Community in the Guaviare region since September 2015. We are helping to rebuild homes for hundreds of displaceden, women and children returning to their ancestral lands. We provide free legal counseling so that people know their rights on land issues. We also support children to return to school.

Date: February 2017
Photo credit: NRC / Michelle Delaney
Text: michelle.delaney@nrc.no
Read caption Vincente and his family standing in their garden. Photo: Michelle Delaney/NRC

Building a future

The Norwegian Refugee Council has been working with the Jiw Community in the Guaviare region since September 2015. We are helping to rebuild homes for hundreds of displaced men, women and children returning to their ancestral lands. We provide free legal counseling so that people know their rights on land issues. We also support children to return to school.

Read more about NRC’s work in Colombia here.

The conflict and peace process in Colombia

A five decade-long armed conflict has given Colombia the most prolonged and serious humanitarian crisis in the Americas. Since 1991, NRC has been active in the country, where more than 6.9 million people are forcibly displaced.

Colombia's large displaced population continues to live in dire circumstances. Despite reduced new internal displacement in 2016, 4,9 million people still depend on humanitarian aid.

The peace process

The official peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC started with a meeting in Oslo, Norway in October 2012, and continued in Havana, Cuba.

Over the following four years, the negotiations broke down on several occasions, but in September 2016, the parties signed a peace agreement.

In October 2016, a small majority of the Colombian people voted against the proposed peace agreement. In November 2016, the government and FARC signed a revised peace agreement and in December Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for peace in the country.

As a revised peace accord between the government and the country's largest rebel group, FARC, has been signed, and talks on potential formal negotiations with its second largest, ELN, continue, there is hope that peace may at last come to Colombia. For decades, the country's civilians have born the brunt of war. Colombia has the world's second largest number of internally displaced people, after Syria.

Despite the peace agreement, indigenous communities continue to be displaced. Six massive displacements gave been recorded in the first 40 days of 2017 - and over half the affected people belong to indigenous communities. Continued commitment is needed from the international community to help protect these people.