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European Caritas Organisations Worried About Lawless Situation in Areas of Colombia


17 Nov 2011


Global Europe

Caritas' Colombia Working Group denounces massive violation of human rights in areas where several armed groups are present.

Brussels, 17 November 2011 - Following a visit organised on 25-28 October 2011 in Colombia, Caritas’ Working Group for Colombia denounces a persistent violation of human rights in the Department of Córdoba. These violations are linked to the on-going armed conflict in the region and the presence of armed groups such as the FARCS, so called “criminal gangs” and new groups stemming from several dismantled paramilitary organisations.

These violations of human rights are mainly expressed in the form of forced mass displacements of the population and forced arrest of entire populations, especial in rural areas of the regions of Alto Sinú and Alto San Jorge. The situation has been worsening during the last two years.

Caritas' Working Group for Colombia is bringing the spotlight on the defaulting presence of the State in the area and the poor social attention the government is giving to the victims of the conflict.

The violence is affecting extremely exposed and vulnerable groups, such as the indigenous tribes Embera and Zenú, the Afro-Colombian communities, social leaders in the rural areas, women and displaced people. The Group is also pulling the alarm bell about the increasing risks and threats towards human right defenders in the region.

Recommendations to Colombia and the International Community

Caritas has put together a series of recommendations to the Colombian state and the International Community.

To the Colombian state:

- Maintain the political will to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the region.

- Increase the state’s social presence in the region to guarantee better care and protection of the victims and community leaders of the region.

- Ensure that the strategy of security is oriented firstly towards guaranteeing the respect of human rights and the international humanitarian right.

- Strengthen efficacity of response to early warnings and risk reports. 

To the International Community

    Close monitoring, through presence in the field, of the situation of humanitarian crisis and violation of human rights in the region, putting special attention on the needs of the community.   

    Ensure that foreign investments in the region do promote a local growth and development based on the respect of human rights and anchored on previous consultations with the local communities. 

Active since 1997

Caritas' Working Group for Colombia is composed of Caritas Colombia and 8 European Caritas organisations. Namely, Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD), Caritas France (Secours Catholique), Caritas Ireland (Trócaire), Caritas Netherlands (Cordaid), Caritas Spain, Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Norway and Caritas Germany (Deutscher Caritasverband). This group was created in 1997 and has for a mission to raise awareness in Europe about the situation in Colombia. Currently, the group is working on ways to promote and disseminate social justice in the country.

For more information, please contact

In Spain

Ángel Arriví

Communication Officer

+34 91 444 10 16

+34 619 04 53 81

In Brussels

Thorfinnur Ómarsson

Communications Officer

+32 (0)473 34 13 93