- Over 5.2 million people–that’s over 10% of Colombia’s population–have been displaced from their homes and communities due to an ongoing conflict.
- An additional 500,000 people have been forced to flee from Colombia to surrounding countries in order to seek safety.
- Colombia is considered the world’s largest displacement and humanitarian crisis.
- 118,000 people were displaced last year alone.
These are some of the harrowing facts surrounding the Colombian conflict which has raged on for nearly 50 years. This month we have the opportunity to join thousands of people of faith and hundreds of faith communities from across the United States and Colombia to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and reflect, pray and work together to bring an end to the Colombian conflict. Please join us in the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia 2012 movement!
“[The Colombian] conflict disproportionately displaces poor rural farming communities, Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, and women and children, who are victimized by vying armed groups as they seek to control territory, resource-rich land, and transportation channels. In addition, Colombian farmers face the challenge of crop fumigation.
The U.S. funds the aerial fumigation of toxic chemicals over Colombian farm land in an attempt to curb the illegal drug trade, yet the fumigations indiscriminately destroy both legal and illegal crops. Colombians who have been sprayed by the chemicals have reported high incidences of miscarriages, birth defects, and fungal skin infections, as well as the death of livestock and the poisoning of drinking water.
Over the past decade, the U.S. government has sent more than $8 billion in aid to Colombia under a program called Plan Colombia. Until very recently, 80% of this aid was earmarked for arming and training the Colombian military, a troubled outfit that has been implicated in gross human rights abuses.
Jesuit Refugee Service has been working with displaced communities in Colombia since 1995. Today, 17 years later, we are still asking you to work with us for peace in Colombia. We invite you to join us,acting in solidarity with the over 5 million internally displaced people in Colombia, as well as the 500,000 Colombians who have fled the violence from the long armed conflict to neighboring countries.”
Pray for your sisters and brother in Colombia and for a peaceful end to the armed conflict. Encourage your parish to participate in the Days of Prayer and Action by praying for Colombia as a congregation or taking action together (see next component).
Educate yourselves and your campuses, communities, or parishes about the current crisis in Colombia, and help us send over 15,000 postcards to President Obama asking for the United States to promote a negotiated end to the conflict, prioritize funding for displaced persons and victims of violence, stop sending military aid that fuels war, and end the toxic aerial spraying programs in favor of alternative development aid.
You can also participate in the public witness to be displayed in May: 5200 paper houses with messages of hope and home will be scattered in front of the White House to represent the 5.2 million displaced people in Colombia.
To order free advocacy postcards for yourself or community: Please email Kim Miller at kmiller(at)ignatiansolidarity.net.
To learn more about Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia and how to participate in the public witness: Download the Organizer’s Packet
To ask questions, post photos, and connect with others hosting events in both Colombia and the U.S: Visit the DoPA for Colombia Facebook page