The presence of Operazione Colomba in Colombia started in 2009 upon request of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, a group of farmers who chose to be neutral towards any armed actor in order to survive and defend their land (Humanitarian Area since 1997).
In the country, the FARC and other guerrillas factions, the national army and paramilitary groups fought each other for decades to control the territory, its resources and the narcotrafficking.
In November 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a Peace Agreement, but a real pacification of the country has not yet been achieved.
Neo paramilitary groups have occupied and brought under control the territories left by the FARC; and so did the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), whose peace dialogue with the government is still suspended.
Due to this state of affairs, Colombia is one of the most dangerous country in the world.
According to the United Nations, 45 massacres against civilians were reported from January to October 2020, the highest number since 2016. Violence against Human Rights Defenders and social leaders has been increasing too: in the same period, 48 people were killed, including 9 from ethnic minorities and 5 women.
Operazione Colomba’s volunteers stand by the approximately 500 farmers of the Peace Community, protecting its leaders and members during their movements by international civil escorts, thus enabling them to carry on their daily activities in safety.
Operazione Colomba’s presence also serves as a deterrent against the violence and the forced displacement of hundreds civilians who still live in that area, even if they are not members of the Peace Community.
The volunteers have been also carrying out advocacy and awareness raising activities which have grown after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Colombia has been heavily affected by the Coronavirus, with serious consequences in terms of health care and security. Civilians and Human Rights Defenders have been even more targeted by illegal armed groups who are taking advantage of the lacking police control and movement restrictions for Human Rights protecting and monitoring organizations.
Thanks to its coordination and collective strength, and through Operazione Colomba’s support, the Community of Peace has been resisting this further emergency sticking together to guarantee food and self-defence.