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The Advocate: Syria, Sudan, and Colombia? The Human Cost of War

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Author: Omar Martinez

By: Omar Martinez, November 2014

What do Colombia, Syria, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have in common? Believe it or not, Colombia ranks behind only Syria in the number of internally displaced people, with over 5.7 million fleeing their homes due to conflict. That striking number is just one example of just how costly the last five decades of internal conflict have been to Colombia’s civilian population.

What are the human costs of a war that has seen so many victims from all armed actors, including guerrillas, paramilitaries, and members of the Colombian army? Check out our new infographic, The Human Costs of the Colombian Conflict

Human Cost COver
Over 218,000 people have been killed in the conflict, an astounding 81 percent of them civilians. Over 5.7 million internally displaced persons, more than 25,000 disappeared people, 27,000 kidnapped, 1,982 massacres. More than 489,000 women are estimated to have been victims of sexual violence.

But these are just numbers. There is a name, and a tragic and heroic story, behind each of those statistics. To understand the impact that violence has had on Colombian society, we have to listen to the victims, their harrowing stories, and their proposals for change. That is why LAWG organized, with the Washington Office on Latin America, a delegation of victims of the Colombian conflict to come to Washington, DC, and emphatically tell our government that now, more than ever before, is the time to support a just, true, and lasting peace in Colombia.

United in their call for peace, members of the delegation presented their vision of what a peace accord should include and their proposals for reaching that elusive peace. As the war continues to rage even during peace negotiations, all members of the delegation were clear in stating that the United States can play an important role by reorienting aid away from war and towards peace accord implementation. As you can see from The Human Costs of the Colombian Conflict, peace can’t come quickly enough.