The 2014 winner of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award is the Colombian women’s rights group, Red Mariposas de Alas Nuevas Construyendo Futuro – or Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future (Butterflies), whose members risk their lives to help survivors of forced displacement and sexual abuse. Based in the Pacific coastal city of Buenaventura, Butterflies, who are all volunteers, have so far helped over 1000 women and their families.
Colombia is second only to Syria in the number of internally displaced people globally. Nowhere in the country is the devastation of the five decade armed conflict felt as acutely as in Buenaventura. This industrial port city has some of the highest rates of violence and displacement due to escalating rivalries between illegal armed groups and women are often their targets. The groups violate women and children to demonstrate their power and strength and frequently torture, rape or kill to exact revenge. “These women are doing extraordinary work in the most challenging of contexts,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.” Each day they seek to heal the wounds of the women and children of Buenaventura and in doing so put their own lives at risk. Their bravery goes beyond words”.
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