Colombia

Video: CAFOD works with Caritas Colombia (SNPS) and the Caritas Colombia Working Group to promote peace and justice in the resolution of the 50 year internal armed conflict. SNPS works with people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and land. This video tells the story of one such peasant farmer community, Paquemas.  

Colombia has been ravaged by over fifty years of armed conflict involving the security forces, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and the formerly largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have been taking place since October 2012. A bilateral ceasefire was announced on 23 June 2016 and in August a final agreement on the peace talks was announced, which was officially signed on 24 November 2016.

Find out more about the Colombia peace process

All parties to the conflict have been involved in serious human rights violations: more than 280,000 Colombians have been killed and almost eight million people have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Colombia has the highest numbers of internally displaced people in the world.

Marginalised communities, often living in rural areas, including Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and small-scale farming communities, have been most affected by the armed conflict. Poverty and inequality are among the root causes of the conflict and they continue to be unaddressed as many people are pushed into long term poverty, living in unsafe dwellings in shanty towns on the outskirts of cities. 

In February 2017, formal peace talks started between the guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian Government, who reached a temporary bi-lateral ceasefire agreement ahead of Pope Francis' visit in September 2017.

CAFOD in Colombia

The Catholic Church plays a key role in Colombia as an advocate for peace and human rights and in the resettlement of uprooted communities. CAFOD’s programme focuses on peace-building, protection of human rights defenders and communities, sustainable livelihoods, work on business and human rights, and gender based violence.

Watch this film about spreading the message of peace via music in Colombia.

 

Cesar Lopez

Our work is concerned with inspiring young people who can't find a way out or who don't think they can build a life for themselves beyond their neighbourhood. There are many theories for peace: redistribute land and improve education and health, but none of these speak of emotion - the fear, the guilt, the anger. Music is a fundamental tool to reach the emotions. We need to learn to deactivate the inner weapon inside us.

Cesar Lopez

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