One year on, Columbia still has far to go
One year after the signing of the peace accords, 4.9 million people are still in desperate need of humanitarian aid in Columbia
Nov 29 2017
Columbia is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the signing of peace accords to end half a century of armed conflict in Colombia between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) and the Government. The people of Columbia and the international community are slowly coming to the end of the most painful chapter in the country’s history. The conflict took 220,000 lives and displaced 7.3 million people, and whilst signs of hope are beginning to emerge, the country still faces enormous challenges.
Whilst the FARC have now formally handed over their weapons, which have been collected and destroyed, the rebels involved with the organisation are now left with the difficult process of reintegrating into civilian life. Half a century of violence has made the peace process extremely complex and the Colombian Government estimates it will take between ten to 15 years to establish stability. Both the Government and the people of Columbia will have to make considerable efforts to ensure that the development now visible in the country’s cities also feeds into the rural areas that have borne the brunt of the violence and conflict over the years.
These areas lack basic infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads, as well as income-generating projects like market gardening and getting access to market economies in urban areas.
Action Against Hunger has been working in Columbia for over two decades. Our role is to support the civilian population and work alongside the Columbian State to ensure the country’s future remains stable and peaceful.
The current humanitarian situation in areas previously run by the FARC is governed by the response of the ex-guerrillas to the signing of the peace agreement. In some territories former members of the FARC are focused on positive reintegration into civilian life whilst in others, new armed groups have filled the power vacuum and occupied the area.
Many of those displaced by violence now interpret the peace process as an opportunity to return to their homes, in the hope of recovering parts of their previous lives.
Action Against Hunger is focusing its effort on those who have been displaced most recently (July, August and October) as they have tragically suffered violence in the midst of the country’s new peace building process. The numbers of those fleeing conflict are much lower than in previous years, but the exodus has not stopped. There are areas in certain parts of the country, such as the Pacific coast or northern Santander or Arauca, where violent clashes continue, and where we continue to work hard to generate stability.
Action Against Hunger now faces the challenge of balancing humanitarian needs with the ongoing support needed for the rural communities and the State to be able to move towards peace and overcome any new bouts of violence, limiting the impact on civilians.
To move forward, it’s important to focus on the positive steps Columbia has made so far towards building a long-awaited and lasting peaceful future.
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