24 November 2021
24 November marks five years since the Colombian Government signed a historic peace deal with the then-FARC guerrilla group.
“There have been some advances, but progress is too slow,” says Alejandro Perez, from Caritas Colombia.
“The biggest obstacle for the implementation of the peace deal are the continued attacks and murders of community leaders, victims and human rights defenders.”
“The FARC has left many rural areas but the government hasn’t been able to occupy them, leaving a vacuum where armed groups have moved in and are using the land to grow illicit crops, mining and logging."
"These have all increased deforestation,” says Alejandro Perez, who recently attended COP26 in Glasgow to speak about the impact of the climate crisis in Colombia.
"In Colombia, you can’t talk about climate change without talking about the implementation of the peace deal."
“We need to strengthen the implementation of the peace deal, particularly on the issues of land and providing alternative livelihoods in rural areas."
In 2012, after 5 decades of internal armed conflict, peace talks between the Colombian Government and the formerly largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), began. Four years of negotiations later, a final peace agreement was signed on 24 Nov 2016. Colombia then began the long process of establishing sustainable peace.
“Colombia’s peace deal put the victims of the armed conflict at it centre,” says Ulrike Beck, CAFOD’s Colombia Programme Officer.
“Next year’s parliamentary election will see the creation of 16 additional seats in the Colombian House of Representatives for victims of the armed conflict from 167 municipalities. This is an important step towards participation and continuing the peace process; however, community leaders standing for these elections will face threats, among other challenges.
“Standing up for peace and reconciliation in Colombia can be a deadly job,” says Ulrike Beck. “CAFOD calls on the international community to monitor the security of victim leaders in next year’s elections and urges the Colombian Government to guarantee their safety.
“We must continue to hope and pray for peace in Colombia, supporting efforts of reconciliation.”
Notes to editors:
CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It works with communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (cafod.org.uk).
For media enquiries please contact Laura Ouseley, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44(0)7909 875 956. CAFOD out-of-hours media phone: +44 (0)7919 301 429.