In 2016, after 50 years of conflict, the Colombian government signed an historic peace agreement with the guerrilla movement FARC. But the country is far being a peaceful nation, in particular for Afro-Colombians, indigenous people and women. Mensen met een Missie is addressing this through trauma healing, fighting discrimination, promoting awareness and political participation as well as citizen journalism.

Increased violence

Despite the peace agreement violence in Colombia has increased in recent years. Newly formed armed groups have filled the void that FARC left behind. This violence particularly affects Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. After decades of conflict, this has further added to the trauma that these communities have suffered.

Under the current government, there has been little funding nor political will to implement the peace agreement, let alone to specifically address the needs of Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups. Facts about the ‘success’ of the peace agreement are skewed and violence is underreported.

The willingness of the Afro-Colombian- and indigenous communities to contribute to the implementation of the peace agreement exists, but their efforts are countered by  armed groups. The number of threats and killings of human rights activists, in particular those from marginalised communities, has increased more than ever. The insurgency also increases the vulnerability of women to sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Colombia is the deadliest country for human rights activists, with over 100 activists being killed in 2019.

Our response

We, along with 7 local partners, promote inclusive peace by focusing on the people most affected by the conflict: Afro-Colombians; indigenous people, and women. We do this through:

Trauma processing
Many local communities have had to deal with violence, despair, and mistrust. Many young men saw no other option than to join armed groups where they witnessed traumatic events including the murder of their parents, and siblings. These events have traumatised a whole generation. We provide a safe space to those affected by the violence where they can share, and talk about their trauma.

Non-discrimination
Afro-Colombians and indigenous people face discrimination, exploitation and oppression from the ruling elite. We promote the appreciation of local culture and values. We bring together men and women of all ages to learn to appreciate their roots by discovering their cultural traditions and take pride in their heritage. Ultimately building resilience against racism.

Awareness and political participation
We encourage Afro-Colombians and indigenous people to stand up for their rights under the peace agreement. We teach local communities and their society leaders about their rights to compensation and the recognition of their historical territory. This leads to communities being stronger in their ability to negotiate with the government.

Community journalism
As many violent events, especially in remote communities, are often not reported by the mass media, we train young community journalists. Through them, the local Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities can inform the world know about the violence in their communities.

Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities have little access to social services like education, health care and infrastructure, which makes them extra prone to violence, forced labor and displacement. Without community journalists the violence stays invisible.

Our impact

Partners: 7 | Program Spend: +/- €8000 | People Reached: 494

Quote: Quote from one of the target group who learned to deal with trauma or was affected by the program in another way

Together with our local partners we have managed to:

– Succesfully put pressure on local and national governments to include the rights of ethnic groups and women in the peace agreement
– Train 25 Afro-Colombian and indigenous youth to be community journalists
– Publish and exhibit a photo report showing the violence against civil society leaders

Colombia

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