CRS in Colombia

Colombia's five-decade-old armed conflict and ongoing human rights violations have made it a country with one of the largest numbers of internally displaced people in the world. The armed conflict, which began in the 1960s, has displaced more than 5.7 million people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Children, women, indigenous people, Afro-Colombians, the poor and people with disabilities suffer most from displacement. We provide humanitarian assistance to Colombians in the host communities that receive them in Ecuador. CRS strives to meet needs for food and non-food assistance; provides psychosocial support for victims of gender-based violence; works with schools to promote the integration of children and adolescents who come to border communities; provides training and support for income generation through productive ventures and SILC (Savings and Internal Lending Committees) microfinance groups that benefit the most vulnerable; and influences local authorities to develop favorable public policies for vulnerable populations.

In addition, CRS works to strengthen civil society and create a culture of peace in the face of the country’s prolonged and complex crisis. 


People Served: 13,930 (FY 2014: 1,970 direct and 11,960 indirect) 

Population: 46,736,728 (July 2015 est.)

Size: 439,735 sq. mi.; slightly less than twice the size of Texas

CRS' History in Colombia

Catholic Relief Services has worked in Colombia for more than 50 years.

In response to increased violence and widespread suffering, our work now focuses on capacity building for the Catholic Church’s National Social Pastoral office and support of small-scale farmers along the Colombian-Ecuador border who are impacted by the ongoing conflict. CRS helps to rebuild families and communities by promoting peace, community organization and economic opportunities.  

Our Borderlands Coffee Project works through local Church partners and in close coordination with allies in the U.S. coffee market to connect committed farmers with willing buyers. We help 1,600 smallholder families in Colombia seize opportunities in the growing segment of the U.S. coffee market that seeks high-quality coffees traceable to their source and pays top dollar for it.  The project’s entrepreneurial approach combines traditional agronomic assistance to boost yields with more specialized technical assistance to increase cup quality and build strong farmer-run enterprises capable of competing in today’s marketplace. With financial support from a U.S. foundation and the Government of Nariño and technical advice from allies in the marketplace, the project is building two industrial centers for coffee processing to anchor these farmer-run enterprises—the first ever in Nariño.

CRS and the Church in Colombia believe peace in Colombia is possible. The Colombian bishops have called for international support for a negotiated path toward peace, policies that address underlying social and economic problems, and humanitarian aid for the millions of victims of the conflict. CRS works with other Catholic, ecumenical and civil society organizations to increase U.S. understanding of the complex situation in Colombia and to encourage advocacy for policies that will form the foundation of a just and lasting resolution to the current conflict.