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Christian Aid continues to work towards peace in Colombia despite referendum set back

3 October 2016 - Christian Aid and its partners have expressed deep disappointment at the rejection of a landmark peace deal between FARC rebels and the Colombian government in a shock referendum result which saw 50.24% voting against the terms of the deal.

Yesterday’s vote was the culmination of four years of negotiations which would have seen an official peace deal reached after more than 50 years of conflict.

Thomas Mortensen, Christian Aid Country Manager in Colombia, said: “This vote casts huge uncertainty over the peace process. The rejection of this peace deal for Colombia could mean a missed opportunity to end one of the world’s longest conflicts and work towards a more equal society.  Those that opposed the agreement, the FARC and the government must work to find a solution for peace in Colombia.

Mr Mortensen continued: “We are however very hopeful that a peaceful solution can be found. Even during this period of uncertainty, it’s hugely important that the cease fire with the FARC is maintained so that the parties have time to find a political solution.

“Despite the results of yesterday's vote, Christian Aid and our partners in Colombia will continue to work for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. We must not lose hope but redouble our efforts to build peace in Colombia.
 
“Our message to the world is to not give up on Colombia. Now more than ever Colombia needs the engagement of the international community. The UK has played an important role supporting peace in Colombia and we urge the UK government to do even more to build peace in the country.”

For more than half a century, Colombia has been devastated by an internal armed conflict. Almost a quarter of a million people have been killed, there are an estimated 8 million victims and at 6.9 million the country has the among the world’s largest number of internally displaced people.

The FARC aren’t the only group responsible for crimes over the last five decades. Right-wing paramilitaries and the army, acting in collusion with each other or individually, have been responsible for the vast majority of serious human rights violations.

Poll results show those who voted against the peace deal with the FARC are far more likely to live in urban areas, where people have not been as affected by the conflict as poorer, rural communities.

The “no” won by half a percentage point. Areas most affected by the conflict voted “yes” to the peace deal. For example, people in Choco, an area where approximately 70 per cent of the population is a victim of Colombia’s armed conflict – overwhelmingly voted ‘yes’ Caribbean provinces also voted yes, despite low turnout due to hurricane Matthew hitting the region where some polling stations had to be shut down.

The proposed deal included action on six major points: rural development, political participation, ending the conflict, illicit drugs, victims’ rights and peace deal implementation, verification and endorsement.

ENDS

If you would like further information, please contact Johanna Rogers on 020 7523 2460 or jrogers@christian-aid.org (24-hour press duty phone: 07850 242950.)


Notes to editors: 

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. 

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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