The World Council of Churches (WCC) has urged its members in the United States to lobby President Barack Obama for a change in the country’s attitude towards Colombia.
Saying that Colombia has “one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crises”, the WCC called for “prayers and actions of concrete solidarity” from its member churches worldwide.
Meeting at Bossey in Switzerland, the WCC executive committee called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Colombia, the full respect of human rights and the cessation of the so called 'Plan Colombia'.
'Plan Colombia' is a package of financial aid and military assistance from the USA to Colombia’s right-wing government. Former US President George Bush justified it by emphasising the need to tackle drug production, but it is alleged that he was more concerned with suppressing armed left-wing groups in Latin America.
The WCC called on churches in the USA "to press their government for an immediate cessation" of the 'Plan Colombia'.
"The violent conflict in Colombia can be overcome only through dialogue and political negotiations", stated the WCC executive committee.
The Council emphasised their long history of "accompaniment to the Colombian people in their struggle”. They said that as a result of the armed conflict, "thousands of people have lost their lives" and "millions are being forcibly displaced, mostly indigenous people, Afro-Colombians and farmers".
They said that foreign assistance to Colombia should "be redirected from military to humanitarian purposes” and called for “a renewed emphasis on strengthening respect for human rights in the country".
The WCC also urged religious leaders in Colombia “to continue their efforts in promoting a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the disarming of the paramilitary and the restoration of the rule of law".