2011 Photography Recipient - Mads Nissen

2011 Grant Recipient: MADS NISSEN

Project: No Shelter from Fear

Region/Impact: Displaced Populations of Columbia

NEARLY HALF-A-CENTURY of conflict in Colombia between guerrilla rebels, government forces and paramilitary groups, have chased over five million Colombians away from their home, land, and family, making Colombia one of the countries on the planet with the most internally displaced people. And the situation is only worsening with dire and very critical human consequences. The innocent in Colombia have found themselves constantly running for safety when they are either surreptitiously accused by kingpins of choosing the losing side in this brutal conflict, or when their farms are caught at the crosshairs of this deadly war between the multitudes of armed groups.

International human rights organizations, together with locally organized NGOs, place the blame for this massive human displacement on the ongoing-armed conflict, which has also provided a useful cover for those seeking to expand and protect economic interests.

Innocent Colombians are constantly forcefully relocated by armed paramilitary groups, who illegally commandeer land either for themselves, or for wealthy clients who want in on the production of lucrative palm oil, illegal mining, or coca growing. Without options, homeless and displaced Colombians have sought refuge in big cities like Bogotá and Medellin; often opting for unsafe slums over their once peaceful rural lives. But the slum is the breeding ground of the very criminals they fled from in the first place. Crime, political assassinations, fears, are the norm here leaving each and every one of them without a stable home, or a safe shelter.