Violence and conflict affects almost one fifth of the world’s population or 1.5 billion people. The daily fear, uncertainty and suffering borne by people living through violent conflicts in countries such as Syria, Iraq and South Sudan is immeasurable and unimaginable.
The war in Syria, has contributed to the highest number of displaced people since World War II; nearly five million having fled its bombs and bullets. Meanwhile, the catastrophe continues for people trapped in besieged villages across Syria and Iraq.
Other countries like Colombia are striving to end protracted conflicts and push peace over the line.
Today, one in every 122 people is now a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum, and the cost of world military spending is said to be nearly 250 times more than is spent on peace building. Christian Aid has adopted ‘From Violence to Peace,’ as a strategic priority to address these critical trends and because we know that human development cannot be achieved without tackling violence. Seventy years after Christian Aid’s establishment, the root causes and levels of violence in poor communities where we work persists, often at higher levels and irrespective of whether those communities are ‘at war’ or not. Most of the world’s poorest people live outside of any form of protection and remain vulnerable to war and conflict, violent criminal organisations, gender-based violence, police abuse, forced labour and violent theft of land and other assets on a daily basis.
People who do not have a safe place to call home, reliable access to food and an income because of violence, cannot plan for the future. Communities living through daily violence cannot thrive. And children who are forced to leave school because of violence are denied a chance at their hopes and dreams. Women and girls are also increasingly subject to physical and sexual violence, a harrowing result of gender inequality.
Conflict is complex and even when peace comes, it does not always signal an end to violence. It can mark a shift from militarised conflict to widespread social conflict. For example, in Central America more people die violently today due to crime than during the civil wars of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua combined.
Our new strategy underpins our commitment to tackle violence and to promote just and lasting peace and security where we work. The strategy is deeply informed by our work in countries across the globe and reflects the aspirations and vision of our local partners. Peace is both an end in itself and a prerequisite for development. ‘From Violence to Peace’ is our pledge to work tirelessly and collectively towards a safer future that secures justice and human rights for all.