AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Violence in Antioquia: religious communities ask to respect the right to peace

Thursday, 22 July 2021 wars   armed groups   peace   dialogue   orders   religious community  


Antioquia (Agenzia Fides) - Warn about the effects of the worsening of the armed conflict, while a territorial dispute has arisen between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC); respect international humanitarian law and "the right to peace": this is what the missionaries of the Interreligious Solidarity Network in the conflict zones in Colombia are asking, following a report launched by the Missionaries of Mother Laura of the Province of Medellín.
The urgent appeal, addressed to the authorities, highlights the difficult situation of indigenous, African American and peasant communities in the west of the department of Antioquia, Colombia. In the text presented, sent to Agenzia Fides, the missionaries point out, among the main problems, the recruitment of minors, the installation of anti-personnel mines, threats to leaders and communities, selective assassinations, displacements, confinement and sexual abuse against civilians. The organizations of the Network ask the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the various armed actors to respect international humanitarian law and put an end to the installation of anti-personnel mines, given the serious consequences that this entails for the victims of these devices. The communication announces the creation of a special humanitarian mission that will begin in the municipalities of Dabeiba and Frontino, with the aim of listening, accompanying and providing moral support to the communities in the face of the crisis they are going through. To do this, missionaries require the presence of national and international human rights organizations, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Peace Accord Verification Mission in Colombia. The situation in Antioquia seemed to calm down, but in recent times the violence has increased. The Catholic Church on many occasions has asked the authorities for an effective presence in this area, as did Mgr. César Alcides Balbín Tamayo, Bishop of the diocese of Caldas in Antioquia (see Fides, 21/3/2019), or as the Bishops of the dioceses of Quibdó, Istmina-Tadó and Apartadó did at the beginning of Holy Week 2021, (see Fides, 30/3/2021).
In that Holy Week, the Bishops had asked criminal groups to take up an appeal for peace, in order to stop murders, injuries, kidnappings, extortion, imprisonment, displacement, recruitment of minors, threats and disorders that affect indigenous communities, Afro - descendants and peasants. "The institutions - wrote the prelates - must respond effectively to the cry of citizenship that demands rights, security and dialogue, and civil society must renounce any attitude of indifference and conformity to contribute constructively to the solutions required". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/7/2021)