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Christian Aid continues to work towards peace in Colombia despite referendum set back

3 October 2016 - Christian Aid Ireland and its partners have expressed deep disappointment at the rejection of a landmark peace deal between FARC rebels and the Colombian government, in a shock referendum result, with 50.24% voting against the terms of the deal. 

Yesterday’s vote was the culmination of four years of negotiations which would have seen an official peace deal reached after more than 50 years of conflict.

Thomas Mortensen, Country Manager with Christian Aid in Colombia expressed regret at the outcome:

'This vote casts huge uncertainty over the peace process. The rejection of this peace deal for Colombia could result in a missed opportunity to end one of the world’s longest conflicts and work towards a more equal society. The government and those who opposed the deal must set aside their personal differences and short term political interests and work to find a solution for peace in Colombia.'

Mr Mortensen continued:

'We are however very hopeful that a peaceful solution can be found, and, even in this period of uncertainty, it’s hugely important that the cease fire with the FARC is maintained so that the parties have time to find a political solution. Notwithstanding the results of yesterday's vote, Christian Aid and our partners in Colombia will continue to work for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. We must not lose hope but redouble our efforts to build peace in Colombia.'

Karol Balfe, with Christian Aid Ireland added:

'Colombia more now than ever needs the engagement of the international community, Ireland has played an important role supporting peace in Colombia and we urge the Irish government to continue this vital work.'

For more than half a century Colombia has been devastated by an internal armed conflict; almost a quarter of a million people have been killed, there are an estimated 8 million victims and at 6.9 million the country has the among the world’s largest number of internally displaced people. 

After almost four years of public negotiations the final peace agreement would have established a bilateral and definitive ceasefire between Colombian armed forces and the FARC. The proposed deal included action on six major points: rural development, political participation, ending the conflict, illicit drugs, victims’ rights and peace deal implementation and peace deal implementation, verification and endorsement.

The peace deal included specific measures to ensure victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparation; and provides for no amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations, such as sexual violence, whether committed by state forces, the FARC or paramilitary groups.

If you would like further information or to arrange an interview please contact Florence Mutesasira on fmutesasira@christian-aid.org or call (+353) 086 160 9405, or Barry Turley on (0044) 7734 256318.  

Notes to editors: 

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid Ireland, with the support of Irish Aid, funds partners in Colombia working on peace building, human rights and accountability.

4. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

5. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl

6. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie

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