UNDP provides funding, emotional healing to Peru terrorism victims

11 May 2009

UNDP-GEF's funding has assisted displaced survivors of Peru's war against terrorism.
Photo: UNDP

In 1984, a group of rural women fled the Andes just as hundreds of thousands of terrified people did. In 2009, their joy of receiving funding from UNDP barely lessens the pain from pairs of eyes that have witnessed husbands, sons, fathers and brothers literally disappear during Peru’s war against terrorism.

Their home – the province of Victor Fajardo, Ayacucho in the southern highlands – was occupied early on by the Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla organization in Peru that was soon countered by a strong military response from the national government. Today Victor Fajardo is for many a place of cruelty and mass graves.

“Life was worth nothing,” said Bonifacia Cayo, recounting how she fled with her only son after learning that they could become one of “the disappeared,” just as her husband Florencio Villagaray had. He was one of almost 70,000 victims, mostly poor, indigenous peasants of the 1980-2000 armed conflict in Peru.

Organized under the name “Asociación de desplazados de Ayacucho,” Bonifacia and dozens of other women endured discrimination and displacement yet managed to survive in the outskirts of Ica, until everything they had built for two decades was destroyed in the 2007 earthquake. In this part of Peru, a five-member household lives on an average of US$120 a month.

Picking up the pieces and building something out of very little is an exercise of strength developed over time by these women. This time around, they can rely on UNDP-Global Environment Facility funding and capacity building support as part of UNDP’s post-earthquake economic reactivation and reconstruction program.  The UNDP-GEF project will allow women to trade organic produce, farm guinea pigs and start a greenhouse with native fruit trees for a future orchard, in turn renewing their ties and means of production to the land that has sheltered them from war.