British peaceworker joins delegation to war-torn Colombia

By staff writers
January 17, 2008

Paul Mukerji, a tour manager from Kent in England, is travelling to Colombia as part of a delegation sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which works to 'get in the way' of violence in zones of conflict around the world.

Mr Mukerji will meet with human rights workers and church leaders in Bogota, then spend several days in the oil-refining port city of Barrancabermeja, where CPT's long-term team is based, reports local paper the Bromsgrove Advertiser.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams' delegation will then travel to the foothills of the San Luca Mountains in southern Bolivar province, where the rural communities of Micoahumado have suffered para-military, guerrilla, and military violence, including displacement, extra judicial killings, economic blockades, aerial spraying of their crops and the placing of land mines in their roads and fields.

In response, the communities have undertaken a "Community Process for Life and Peace".

The delegation - consisting of seven people from across America, Canada, and the United Kingdom - hopes to gain a better understanding of the situation in Colombia and the effects of the policies of their own governments - and to share insights and experiences with churches and campaign groups when they return home.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative of the historic peace churches (including the Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations.

CPT send teams of trained peacemakers to places of conflict around the world, and they have had a presence in Colombia since February 2001.

The group came to worldwide attention in 2005/6 when four members of a short-term delegation to Iraq were kidnapped by militants. American Tom Fox was killed, but three others, including Briton Norman Kember, were released.

A new book on the camapign around the Iraq hostages and the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams, will be published in March 2008.

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