Jesuit Refugee Service supports a negotiated resolution of the armed civil conflict in Colombia and advocates for policies that will lead to a just and sustainable peace in that country. Toward that end, JRS has successfully advocated to encourage U.S. policy makers to shift the focus of U.S. foreign aid to Colombia away from military support, and toward greater contributions to humanitarian aid and programs for sustainable development.
Colombian refugees and internally displaced people are the frequently forgotten victims of the nearly 50-year-long conflict between paramilitaries, guerillas, and the Colombian military and security forces.
Earlier this month my colleague Shaina Aber and I visited several JRS program sites in Colombia and Ecuador. One city we visited was Buenaventura, on the Pacific coast. A large port city, Buenaventura has received massive numbers of displaced Colombians in recent years fleeing violent displacement by various armed groups.
Shaina Aber is the Associate Advocacy Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, and an eloquent voice for the voiceless Colombian displaced people and refugees. She wrote, "The fear and violence gripping Buenaventura is palpable as we walk through the neighborhoods hosting the displaced. The victimization of these communities is confirmed in meetings with our Jesuit Refugee Service colleagues, humanitarian organizations, Catholic Church partners, displaced residents, leaders of the local community and other NGOs."
I urge you to read Shaina's full account of our visit to Buenaventura on our website here.
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