Currently, a war is being waged in the Southern Bolivar region of Colombia. This economic and territorial conflict between the National Liberation Army (ELN), the 37th Front dissident group of the FARC, the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC), and the Colombian Military’s Joint Task Force Mars has caused a humanitarian crisis for the civilian population living in the region. On 26 July 2021, Oswaldo Pérez—leader of the Mina Piojo community action board—was assassinated, unleashing a forced displacement of approximately 2000 people in the municipalities of Santa Rosa del Sur, Arenal, Morales and Montecristo.
On 1 August, the displaced families arrived at the Municipality of Santa Rosa to call on the municipal, departmental and national administrative authorities, guerrilla and paramilitary groups, and the national army to respect life, permanence in the territory and the non-involvement of civilians in the armed conflict. The dialogue lasted several days but lacked clear solutions or sufficient guarantees for the communities. Despite this, the communities have decided to return to their lands.
We express our solidarity with communities across Colombia who are refused basic human rights and repeatedly victimized by a government who only prioritizes economic and political interests. We pray that this time will be different, and the authorities will guarantee the following demands made by the community:
- Construction of a Humanitarian Shelter in the San Pedro Frío township, which will serve to temporarily shelter people and families who are threatened by armed actors.
- That the state guarantee decent living conditions for the population as the most effective mechanism to defuse the conflict.
- That the authorities at all levels respect and not interfere in the Humanitarian Action for Life and Permanence in the territory, which will function through Pastoral and Community Dialogues.
- That the state respond to the region’s social challenges through other means than the increase in force and militarization of the territory.
- That legal and illegal armed groups do not involve civilians in the dynamics of the armed conflict.