Diakonia - People change the world

Colombia votes no to peace agreement

The referendum delivered a no vote regarding the peace agreement, and the people of Colombia now therefore again face an uncertain future. Diakonia is active in the country and continues to work towards implementing a peace that is still within reach.

10/5/2016 Publisher: Victoria Gillberg

The long-awaited peace agreement was rejected by a narrow majority of the people. The result shows that the path to reconciliation is longer than many have previously thought.

“The no vote from the people is an expression of the uncertainty regarding what will happen in the future. But it does not mean that the people do not want peace. It is a temporary setback and we therefore have to identify other paths,” comments Bo Forsberg, Secretary General of Diakonia.

The work continues 

There is a despondent atmosphere in Diakonia‘s regional office in Colombia's capital Bogota, but hopes of achieving peace remain.

“I am disappointed and very worried. This was not the result for which we were hoping. Fears regarding the peace were apparently greater than the fears regarding war. We now need time to reflect on how we should handle this and we await the reaction of President Santos to the outcome of the referendum. Hopefully there is a plan B, in order to avoid the peace negotiations between the government and the FARC guerillas having been completely in vain,” says Viveka Carlestam, Diakonia’s Regional Manager in Latin America. 

The fact that the agreement between the FARC guerillas and the Colombian government will now not be implemented is a terrible shame, but it does not change the need for Diakonia‘s work in the country.

“We will continue to support all those who have believed in peace, and we will keep exerting pressure our own government and the Colombian government. The international community must not think that it is all over,” says Bo Forsberg.

Local presence

Diakonia has been active in Colombia for several decades and has about 20 partner organizations in the country. We work with organizations that champion human rights - for example by working to ensure that women‘s rights are not marginalized during the establishment of democracy, by preventing political violence and by helping people become more informed about the peace agreement and its consequences for the general public. Something that is currently of great importance, for example, is the help our partner organization Benposta provides to forcibly recruited child soldiers who have left the various armed groups.

“We are on the side of the Colombian people. We will continue to work to ensure that human rights are observed and to aid the rehabilitation of people who have been harmed in some way,” says Bo Forsberg.