Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance – an alliance of 100+ churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance and development. Early this month, ACT Alliance General Secretary John Nduna travelled to Colombia and to see the work partners’ human rights work.
As well as visiting projects and partners with members of the ACT forum in Colombia, Mr Nduna met with the Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia and other political figures to discuss the situation of forced displacement, human rights abuses and land tenure.
Reflecting on his visit, Mr Nduna compared Colombia to Sudan which is the only country in the world with more displaced people than Colombia.
The most conservative figures shows there are more than three million Colombians who have been displaced forcibly by death threats, murder, torture, rape and massacres.
Mr Nduna visited several projects for the forcibly displaced in areas such as Soacha and heard many testimonies.
Mr Nduna said ‘The displaced people here cannot return to their homes and land for fear of their lives.
‘There is no security for human rights defenders, and there is almost total impunity for human rights abusers. And, worse still, the systematic crimes that force people to displace are still being perpetrated, there seems to be no end to the suffering of people here.’
The existence of many illegal armed groups in Colombia, says Mr Nduna, is comparable to the chaotic situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Many of the armed groups in both DRC and Colombia are paramilitary groups, private armies doing the will of big private interests, often to take control of natural resources that belong to others, and often with the effective acquiescence of state bodies and state forces.
‘I have seen many conflicts around the world and I have also seen the paths that lead to peace. They have all had to include an end to the violence.
‘Defence of the defenders of human rights is fundamental to the process. Impunity for criminal activity has to cease which means there need to be judicial investigations of human rights violations, including investigations of the “big fish” – those people responsible for massive and systematic crimes.’
ACT members in Colombia - which include Christian Aid partners - are carefully monitoring evidence of human rights abuse in the country and along with churches around the world are currently planning a programme of accompaniment, bringing in people from churches around the world to accompany people and communities who are receiving death threats.
Find out more at http://www.actalliance.org/stories/colombia-like-sudan-and-congo