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Colombia - Hands On - Women's network in Magdalena Medio

Nieles is working with other local women to “fight for peace not with weapons, but by shooting knowledge and training and learning.”

CAFOD’s programme in Colombia focuses on peacebuilding, protection of human rights defenders and communities, sustainable livelihoods, work on business and human rights, protection of the Amazon and care for our Common Home and gender-based violence.

Why CAFOD works in Colombia

It has been over 50 years since violence between the Colombian Government and the formerly largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), began. In 2016, a peace agreement was signed between the government and FARC, but peace is precarious.

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 is one of the countries with the highest number 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 poor neighbourhoods on the outskirts of cities.

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 has been working in Colombia for more than 50 years, supporting partner organisations focussing on:

  • Peacebuilding among children, young people and adults

  • Protecting human rights defenders and communities, especially environmental defenders and those supporting peace

  • Ensuring that those living in greatest financial poverty are able to earn an income to support their families in a sustainable way

  • Business and human rights

  • Protecting the Amazon and caring for our common home, particularly in the face of the widespread deforestation, threats from the extractive industry, and climate change

  • Gender-based violence

  • Colombia has an ongoing humanitarian crisis and we continue to support local organisations responding to crises, for example those related to the armed conflict as well to the climate, and the COVID-19 pandemic, including its long-term impacts such as food insecurity.