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What is Reintegration?
Reintegration is an offer of six and a half years that the Colombian State, through the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization – ARN - offers to people demobilized from illegal armed groups who want to reintegrate into social and economic life.
Reintegration aims to develop civic skills and competencies among demobilized individuals and their environments. At the same time, it aims to provide spaces for coexistence and reconciliation actions, and to promote the co-responsibility of external actors.
ARN's mission is to promote the return of the demobilized population into legality in a sustainable manner. For this reason, demobilized individuals are not only provided with education, job training and psychosocial support, but are also assisted in promoting their productive projects.
The Reintegration Process is available - on a voluntary basis - to demobilized individuals who have been certified as such by the Operative Committee on Laying Down Arms, Coda (Comité Operativo para la Dejación de las Armas).
The Colombian State provides legal benefits for political and related crimes to demobilized individuals from illegal armed groups, as long as they do not reoffend after demobilization.
When individuals enter the Reintegration process, they receive economic support for Reintegration if they attend to at least 90 percent of the activities programmed by the ARN.
Each participant in the Reintegration process commits to carry out at least 80 hours of Social Service actions, which are fundamental to generate spaces for reconciliation.
Who can access the Reintegration process?
The process is open to individuals certified as demobilized by the Operative Committee on Laying Down Arms (CODA) or the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace who demobilized after January 24, 2003. The requirements include not having committed crimes against humanity, violation of International Humanitarian Law, among others.
The process involves former members of the guerrillas - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), National Liberation Army (ELN, Ejército de Liberación Nacional), Popular Liberation Army (EPL, Ejército Popular de Liberación), among others - and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia).
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration
Individuals who quit an armed group must go to any military, police or civilian authority. During the first few days, they remain at the nearest military or police unit to the place of their surrender, until they are transferred by the Humanitarian Attention Group for the Demobilized (GAHD, Grupo de Atención Humanitaria al Desmovilizado), of the Ministry of Defense, to the city determined for their location.
Individuals are transferred to a Home of Peace, where they receive initial attention in terms of lodging, food, clothing, personal hygiene kits and a transportation allowance. In addition, they may obtain a certificate as a demobilized individual, granted by the Operative Committee on Laying Down Arms (CODA).
Upon certification, individuals may voluntarily access the Social and Economic Reintegration process led by the ARN. The Reintegration Route lasts an average of 6 and a half years.
What are the benefits of the Reintegration process?
The ARN is aware that reintegration is a fundamental ingredient to progress on the path to peace. The Reintegration Policy offers advisory services to obtain legal and social benefits for demobilized individuals to acquire competencies and skills that will facilitate their return to a life in society.
In order to make progress in the social inclusion of demobilized individuals, the ARN provides:
Economic support for Reintegration.
Advisory services for access to education.
Economic integration benefit.
Economic support for Reintegration
This is an economic incentive granted by the ARN (up to COP$480,000), subject to the fulfillment of 90% of each of the activities programmed in the Reintegration Route. This support consists of COP$160,000 for psychosocial care, education or job training.
Participants in the Reintegration Process receive psychosocial care, in order to develop and strengthen competencies in their family, educational, productive and community lives, and to guide their efforts towards the solution of specific needs and problems. Psychosocial care will have a maximum duration of two years and six months but may be extended if the case requires it.
The ARN manages - on a one-time basis - the admission of demobilized individuals and their families to the public education system. Literacy, basic primary, secondary and vocational secondary education are offered.
The ARN manages and guides access to job training quotas in the National Learning Service (SENA, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) and other institutions accredited by the Ministry of National Education. Complementary training courses are offered at the operator, technical and technologist levels.
Economic integration benefit
It is possible to access - on a one-time basis - seed capital for the development of business plans - previously structured and approved - and the employability incentive, which can be used for the purchase of a house of their own or the payment of a mortgage. By receiving this benefit, participants are excluded from the economic support for Reintegration.
The ARN manages the affiliation to the Subsidized Regime of the General System of Social Security in Health (SGSSS, Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud) for individuals undergoing the Reintegration Process and their families.
How can I join to support the Reintegration Process?
There are many ways to support the Reintegration Process. One of the mechanisms is the Aportando Tiempo program, a volunteer program where company executives and university students donate time to train people who are reintegrating in aspects such as financial education, entrepreneurship and finance.
Supplier supply is another mechanism, where companies hire as suppliers people who are reintegrating into social and economic life. This mechanism seeks to strengthen the business plans of individuals in the Reintegration Process.
Companies can also finance reconciliation projects, where people who are reintegrating share spaces with the communities that welcome them and - at the same time - carry out social service actions. One of ARN's main purposes is to promote reconciliation spaces.
By means of employability, employers or individuals can engage participants in the Reintegration Process in the labor market.
ARN accompanies companies and employers in the selection process of individuals to be hired. The entity also cooperates in the training of individuals in the Reintegration Process according to the needs of the companies that are willing to hire.
Reintegration requires everyone's commitment
Reintegration is a fundamental ingredient in peace building. Therefore, this task - which is complex - requires the enthusiastic commitment of as many people as possible. Obviously, the national government is the most active promoter of Reintegration, but that is not enough.
The success of the Reintegration Program requires the support of the entire State at all levels - including territorial governments - i.e., governors' offices and municipalities.
However, this is not enough. Help and participation of the private sector is also essential. It is of little use for the State to invest time and money in the reintegration of thousands of individuals if the doors to society are closed to them.
The ARN is certain that a country like Colombia - plagued by a decades-long armed conflict - must be aligned with Reintegration in order for it to be successful.