Media CenterCRS Hopeful for Peace as Colombia Nears End of 50-Year Conflict
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
International Aid Organization Urges Aid to Focus on Rural Agriculture, Not Military Benchmarks
BALTIMORE, MD, August 25, 2016 – International development organization, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), applauds the momentous peace agreement reached by the Colombian government and the country’s FARC rebel group. The accord would mark the end of a conflict that has lasted for more than 50 years.
“In our work with Colombians displaced by violence, we have seen the physical and psychological scars that this war has left,” said Tom Hollywood, South American zonal representative for CRS. “We have also seen the resilience of the people, eager to rebuild and flourish. We will continue working closely with the Catholic bishops in Colombia so that it is this optimism that marks the path to peace.”
The final accord will end decades of war that have claimed the lives of over 220,000 Colombians and has forced over 6 million from their homes. CRS has worked with thousands of those displaced, both in Colombia and in neighboring Ecuador, as well as with small-scale farmers along the Colombian-Ecuador border, helping to rebuild families and communities by promoting peace, community organization and economic opportunities.
CRS calls on the United States government to support Colombia at this critical moment with aid that focuses on rural economic development and inclusion, thus offering alternatives to the cocaine production industry or other illicit and lucrative activities which many rely on for income.
“The war has gravely disrupted national economic growth, but now we have an opportunity to promote forgiveness, healing and dignity to support Colombians, especially the poor and those who will be demobilized as FARC soldiers,” said Hollywood. “Farmers who were displaced by the conflict or who were former combatants have additional barriers to become productive members of their communities. Yet this is an opportune time to sow and cultivate the most important crop in Colombia these days – hope.”
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.