Welsh Catholics raise flag for Colombian peace-builders

 Welsh Catholics raise flag for Colombian peace-builders

A Welsh flag signed by the Archbishop of Cardiff, school children, students, politicians and CAFOD supporters has been presented to peace-builders in Colombia to show solidarity with those affected by the long-running conflict.

Barbara Davies (29) from Penarth, who works for Catholic aid agency CAFOD, handed over the flag to a group of Colombian Bishops, at an international peace congress in Colombia last week, attended by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The Bishops, together with CAFOD's Colombian partner organisations, are leading the way in pushing for a peace that includes truth, justice and reparations for the victims of the conflict. At the congress, they launched an international campaign for the rights of victims, of which CAFOD is a part.

Barbara said: "It was a very proud moment. The international community has a huge part to play in pushing for a just peace. But the 'international community' is often faceless. The flag shows that people in parishes, schools and individuals can do their bit for peace in Colombia and demonstrate a real solidarity. For people in Colombia to know there are people in Wales aware of their plight, the dangers they face and are thinking about them is a huge support to them.

"More than 3 million people have been forced to leave their homes in Colombia due to the long-running conflict - as many as the total population of Wales. Imagine if this happened here? Six million hectares of land have also been taken from people, that's land three times the size of Wales. A big theme of our campaign will be handing back this land so people can rebuild their lives."

In April, Archbishop Ruben Salazar, now President of the Colombian Bishop's Conference and leading the Colombian Church's work in humanitarian relief and defence of human rights, visited St Joseph's RC High School in Newport, parishioners in Christ the King Church in Llanishen and students from Cardiff School of Journalism. He also met Archbishop Peter Smith, Jonathan Evans MEP and Jill Evans MEP to explain how the armed conflict has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world and urged people to sign the flag in support of the Colombian people.

Barbara said: "He was delighted to be presented with the flag at the congress. We're hoping another Colombian Church representative and possibly victims of the conflict will visit Wales in the near future to continue this relationship and keep building on this solidarity."

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