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Sunday, December 4, 2016
One person murdered in Colombia every twenty minutes
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¬†The Catholic Church has joined forces with a number of Colombian organisations to launch a 'Week for Peace'. This event comes in the wake of last week's call by President Uribe for the Church to act as mediator in talks with guerrilla organisations - the FARC and the ELN. As violence continues to blight the Latin American country, the 'Week for Peace', which will run from 4th to 9th of September, is designed to promote peace, defend human dignity and demand the right to life. Figures show that Colombia has the highest murder rate in Latin America, with the number of violent deaths roughly equal to that of Iraq . While the most visible aspect of Colombia's culture of violence is the forty-year civil war that continues to rage throughout the country, the lives of ordinary Colombians are regularly scarred by violent crime. Pastoral Social, the national welfare and social development arm of the Colombian Catholic Church, which is supported by aid agency, CAFOD, recently reported that a person is murdered in Colombia every 20 minutes. The flagship event of the 'Week for Peace' is a National Congress of Peace Initiatives. Representatives of communities living in the midst of violence as well as Churches, voluntary organisations and academic institutions will meet in the capital, BogotŠ, to draw up an Agenda for Pece to be presented to the candidates in next year's presidential elections. Other events happening during the week include a Carnival of Human Values aimed at demonstrating the nation's longing for dignity and human rights. Children across the country will demonstrate their support for peace by flying kites, lighting candles and painting messages in streets and parks. Marches in various towns and cities will promote the need for both women and children's rights. The Week is organised by a whole range of organisations, churches, youth and women's groups, including CAFOD partners Pastoral Social and the Centre for Research and Popular Education (CINEP). The slogan for the week is: 'Make peace possible, defend life and its dignity'. Clare Dixon, CAFOD's Head of Latin America Programmes, said: "This is a really important initiative. Children and young people in Colombia have no experience of living in peace and security and their involvement along with church and community groups, will be both inspiring and thought-provoking. "More than half the people of the capital, BogotŠ, have been victims of some form of crime . Colombians live under the threat of violence and in the shadow of drugs, arms trafficking and corruption, not to mention the civil war. Clearly they have the right to demand peace. We hope the government and all the armed groups in the country will get the message." Notes: i. Murder rate in Iraq is 43 per 100,000 people, while in Colombia it is 44 per 100,000 people. Sources: UPI and UN. ii. 54.6% of BogotŠ's population had been the victim of some form of crime in 1996 (latest available data), compared to 44% in Rio de Janeiro and 38% in Johannesburg. Source: UN Development Report.
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