ACT Members Make Appeal to Assist Colombian IDPs

Members of a global alliance of churches and related agencies are requesting support in their continuing response to the plight of the internally displaced persons (IDP) population in Colombia.

“Colombia is suffering a longstanding conflict between the Government and illegal armed groups, that includes guerrillas, paramilitary groups and other criminal elements that afflict all parts of the country, both urban and rural,” the global alliance Action by Churches Together reported in a recent appeal for assistance to those displaced by armed conflict in the war-torn country.

Today, Colombia has the third largest internally displaced population in the world, after Sudan and Angola, and the worst in the western hemisphere, with an estimated two to three million internally displaced persons (IDP) out of a total population of 43 million. New displacements have averaged about 300,000 per year since 2000. The Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) reported that 225,000 Colombians were displaced between January and September 2004, and that the downward trend in displacement is now in reverse.

“People flee their homes because of threats, fear, assassinations and massacres associated with the armed conflict and lawlessness,” ACT reported. “Forty years of conflict and a recent economic downturn have led to a severe deterioration in the basic conditions of Colombia’s population leading to poverty, food insecurity and hunger.”

A study conducted by WFP between December 2002 and April 2003, concluded that 80% of Colombians displaced by violence live in extreme poverty and lack access to sufficient food.

As this latest appeal will be the fourth for Colombia, ACT reports that it is considered that a review of the ACT involvement in this crisis is needed in order to define its relevance, impact and way forward. Therefore, a request for an external evaluation is included in the appeal.

Currently ACT Members in Colombia—Diakonie Emergency Aid (DEA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO)/Lutheran World Federation and ACT Netherlands/Project Counseling Service (PCS)—have been responding to the plight of the IDP population in Colombia and ACT reports that they intend to continue doing so.

A full text of the appeal can be found on the ACT website or can be directly viewed through the following link: http://www.act-intl.org/appeals/appeals_2005/LACO51.pdf