Colombia: A Plan for Life

Dorfbewohner aus der Gruppe der Awá auf der Flucht vor der GewaltVillagers of the ethnic Group "Awá" on their escape of the violence in the Departamento de Nariño, Colombia.Foto: Paul Smith / SNPS

There is no road to Guapi, the little district town in South-West Colombia. Anyone who wants to come here, has to take an air-plane or a boat. A net of river courses runs through the vast area covering hundreds of square kilometres. The Rio Guapi, connecting the outback with the Pacific, is called "the channel” here. "The channel is both a blessing and a curse”, says Father Tobias, who regularly visits, together with aid-workers from Caritas, the communities living along the river. Its rich fish stock is an important source of livelihood for the population. On the other hand the Rio Guapi is the central transport route for all armed parties which use the rain forest around the Guapi as their retreat - guerilla groups, paramilitaries and drug gangs. Coca is being transported via the channel from the rain forest to the Pacific Ocean, weapons from the Pacific to the jungle.

Community based approach

Vertriebene in KolumbienElba Ovando Montaño with her youngest daughter in an Caritas-emergency shelter.Foto: Jürgen Escher / Caritas international

Again and again people flee from the villages to the Guapi - because of the fights or because drug gangs take away their fields to plant coca there. Caritas is with the affected people - "Plan de vida” (plan for life) is the name of their community based approach. It includes issues of survival like food security or the supply of drinking water and develops strategies of how the communities can defend better against attacks.

Also in Pasto, between the Pacific Ocean and the highlands, Caritas is rendering emergency relief for expellees, distributing food and providing shelter. And it fights for protection of the victims, for land restitution, for compensation and other ways of support.

Click here for more information about the work of Caritas international in Colombia (in German)

July 2017