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The signing of the peace agreement, the laying down of weapons by the FARC-EP, as well as the peace negotiations with the guerrilla movement of the ELN, are extremely relevant to the country's history. In a conflict lasting more than 50 years, over seven million people have been displaced and 200,000 have died.
The peace agreement is a historic opportunity. While making known what has happened, holding responsible parties to account, and providing reparation for victims, it is also a chance to address deep-rooted social, political, and economic inequalities that characterise the country. Poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, political exclusion and human rights violations remain major hurdles.
On the other hand, Colombia is at high risk from climate change impacts. The effects of climate change – including floods, landslides, changes in water provision, and more – are already being felt in parts of Colombia and are expected to exacerbate internal displacements and migration. At the same time, Colombia is exposed to several types of natural hazards, including events such as earthquakes, floods and landslides.
Caritas Switzerland’s geographic focus is concentrated in the north (the Caribbean coast region) and northwest Colombia (Antioquia Department, including Medellín) and the capital Bogota. The target groups primarily consist of the most vulnerable and marginalised farming communities as well as Indigenous and Afro-Colombian people. A strong emphasis is placed on internally displaced persons and victims of double affectation (e.g. conflict and natural hazards), with a special focus on women, youth and children.
Description of map: Caritas Switzerland works in the Caribbeancoast region, the department of Antioquia, including Medellín, and the capital Bogotá.
Caritas Switzerland’s programme activities include creating awareness among target groups about their rights, to increase their legal knowledge, enhance their capabilities and opportunities to make themselves heard, and to assert rights as well as claims. Caritas Switzerland also supports human rights defenders through preventive and protective mechanisms. Moreover, the organisation’s work involves lobbying and advocacy activities to influence key actors. Networking and awareness-raising among the general public are likewise central issues.
Peacebuilding interventions in Colombia are mainly aimed at violence prevention, conflict management and transformation, and coming to terms with a violent conflict in its aftermath. In light of the recent peace agreement between the Government and FARC and the current peace talks with the ELN (Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla group after FARC) Caritas Switzerland’s interventions in the coming years will also be geared towards post-agreement peacebuilding. This entails a greater focus on supporting the reintegration of demobilised guerrillas into society and reconciliation, including healing, justice, truth-telling and reparation.
The Colombia programme’s work in this field of activity largely focuses on the social and economic integration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), including prevention, (social) protection and aid programmes. Through local protective measures, as well as improved sources of income for minors, a strong emphasis is placed on youth to reduce risks of recruitment of minors by groups linked to the armed conflict and the illicit drug economy.
Furthermore, employability is a precondition for earning an income and ensuring decent work relations. Caritas Switzerland’sinterventions in this field are therefore also aimed at improving career options of poor and marginalised IDP youth, such as nonformal vocational education and training and supporting entrepreneurship and self-employment. Additionally, Caritas Switzerland’s interventions include a multipronged approach to offering IDPs in urban centres advice on their rights and duties,supporting them psychosocially and linking them effectively to education, work and housing opportunities. Complementary to this, important advocacy work is carried out by engaging national and local authorities.
Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change (DRR/CC)
Strengthening the capacities of vulnerableand marginalised rural farming communities, local authorities and other relevant stakeholders is central to work in the field of DRR/CC: awareness-raising and training components are present in all interventions. Caritas Switzerland also works on strengthening community institutions for advocacyand dialogue with the authorities and private stakeholders. Moreover, the programme includes small-scale structural measures such as various types of dams, irrigation systems and the construction of community safe havens as well as the promotion of integrated, ecosystem-based natural resource management through climate smart agriculture.
In case of a humanitarian crisis, either manmade or caused by natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, landslides etc., the affected population is supported. The scope of the response and the follow-up support vary depending on the type and scale of the humanitarian crisis.