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UK ends military assistance to Colombia

Christian Aid welcomes the UK government’s recent decision to end bilateral military aid to Colombia’s military.

For some time, Christian Aid and its Colombian partners have been urging the UK government to end financial assistance to the Colombian military, defend human rights and promote sustainable development in the country.

According to a statement by the UK government in April 2009, its military assistance to Colombia in the last year was worth £190,000 and used for demining, human rights training and counter-narcotics assistance.

Scrutinising UK policy

In a recent report - Fit for purpose: how to make UK policy more effective (2mb PDF) - a grouping of UK and Irish organisations including Christian Aid highlighted the flaws in the UK government’s military spending in Colombia:

  • demining: illegal arms groups were targeted but the Colombian government’s mining activities were not.

  • human rights training: there was little information on how success in this area was being evaluated.

  • counter-narcotics: it was difficult to separate the counter-narcotics assistance from the counter-insurgency operations and hence it is difficult to assess whether UK money was used appropriately.

We continue to call on the UK government to:

  • pay special attention to the role British business plays in Colombia and ensure it avoids negative social, environmental and political impacts on poor communities.

  • step up pressure for the Colombian government to remove minefields and provide adequate support for landmine victims.

  • work with UK non-governmental organisations to develop better strategies to support communities at risk of displacement, victims and threatened human rights defenders.

  • be bolder in its condemnation of human rights violations in Colombia

Colombia is suffering one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world and has the world’s second highest number of internally displaced people, with around 3 - 4 million people fleeing their homes in the last two decades.

 

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