AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Catholic Church and United Nations in Arauca: dialogue and processes to support victims are needed

Friday, 1 April 2022 violence   armed groups   local churches   un   politics   social situation  

Arauca (Agenzia Fides) - Representatives of the Catholic Church and the United Nations visited the territory of the Department of Arauca in view of the renewed outbreak of fighting between armed groups, which has caused casualties and suffering, especially among civilians, and which is further aggravating the humanitarian and social crisis (see Fides, 18/3/2022). In these first months of the year, the war between the ELN and the FARC dissidents has already claimed 130 lives and more than 3,000 displaced people. The visit, which took place this week on March 30, was attended by Bishop Jaime Cristóbal Abril González of Arauca, Monsignor, the Director of Caritas, Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao Gaviria, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the United Nations Observer and Coordinator in Colombia, Mireia Villar Forner, and the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Juliette De Rivero.
During the visit, meetings were held with representatives of local authorities, civil society, human rights organizations, communities and institutions directly affected by the violence. In the statement released after the visit, sent to Fides, the delegation underlines the importance of "promoting assertive and respectful dialogues, the need to create and strengthen institutional spaces to respond to the humanitarian situation and protect civilians". In order to pay attention to these problems and find solutions, "there is a need for increased institutional involvement to guide and coordinate the processes of supporting victims and promoting opportunities for all people in Arauca". Finally, the representatives of the Catholic Church and the United Nations reiterated their commitment to "continue to work to improve the situation in Arauca" and called on the armed groups to stop violence immediately and respect international humanitarian law. They also called on the authorities to ensure spaces for dialogue and effective mechanisms "to protect the life and integrity of the residents of the department". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 1/4/2022)