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Technical Profiles: No Relief in Sight: Report from Caribbean Coast of Colombia

Colombia No Relief in Sight

In April 2011, Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and Lutheran World Relief (LWR) staff visited Córdoba, Sucre and the city of Barranquilla in northern Colombia to evaluate ongoing violence, potential for land returns to displaced people, and protection for human rights defenders and communities. The trip focused on many of LWR’s partners, from small farmer associations to nongovernmental groups providing services in poor urban areas. We visited Montería, Tierralta, Lorica, San Onofre, Sincelejo and Barranquilla. The information we gathered on the trip highlighted how distant the prospects are for an end to the conflict, how powerfully paramilitary successor groups have intensified their violent grip, and how inadequate governmental policies are to protect individuals and communities at risk. It also reinforced concerns about how difficult it will be to safely implement a positive plan by the Santos Administration on the immediate horizon, near-finalized legislation to return land to a subset of Colombia’s 5 million displaced persons. Colombian authorities have no effective protection plan in place for rural communities that would return under the new law.

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