With an ongoing civil war that has displaced more than 5 million people, Colombia continues to suffer the largest displacement and humanitarian crisis in the world today. Over half a million Colombians have also fled Colombia’s borders to neighboring countries. Last year alone at least 118,000 people were newly displaced.
This conflict disproportionately displaces poor rural farming communities, Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, and women and children, who are victimized by vying armed groups as they seek to control territory, resources, and transportation routes. In addition, Colombian farmers face the challenge of crop fumigation. The U.S. funds the aerial fumigation of toxic chemicals over Colombian farm land in an attempt to curb the illegal drug trade, yet the fumigations indiscriminately destroy both legal and illegal crops.Colombians who have been sprayed by the chemicals, produced in the U.S., have reported high incidences of miscarriages, birth defects, and fungal skin infections, as well as the death of livestock and the poisoning of drinking water.
Over the past decade, the U.S. government has spent more than $8 billion in aid to Colombia under a program called Plan Colombia. Until very recently, 80% of this aid was earmarked for arming and training the Colombian military, a troubled outfit that has been implicated in gross human rights abuses. Jesuit Refugee Service has been working with displaced communities in Colombia since 1995. Today, 17 years later, we are still asking you to work with us for peace in Colombia.