Facts about Colombia

A child internally displaced in Colombia. Copyright Paul Jeffrey/ACT
  • Drug-related violence is the second largest cause of death, after cancer.  Colombia has been subjected to a long-running conflict between leftist guerrillas and government forces. Dissident right-wing paramilitary squads, drug trafficking gangs and common criminals also contribute to the complex unrest that has plagued the South American nation.
  • In a population of 43 million, 64% of the population live below the poverty line.
  • Colombia is home to 4 million internally displaced persons, the second highest in the world (after Sudan). Internal displacement overwhelms existing services and both locals and displaced people suffer.
  • Colombia has a high number of killings – some 2,500 to 3,000 a year; four decades of armed conflict; and grave violations of humanitarian law. Human Rights Watch estimates that 200,000 people were killed between 1998 and 2003. Approximately 97 percent of the crimes go unpunished.
  • Colombia has featured in Medecins sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders annual Top Ten list of most underreported humanitarian disasters every year since 1999
  • Church leaders are disproportionately targeted by the violent factions. In 2007, 300 violations against church leaders were documented. The author of this week’s Bible study is an exiled Colombian church leader.  Others who work for peace and stability are deliberately targeted – in 2002, 184 trade unionists were assassinated.

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