Project

Operazione Colomba is in Colombia since 2009, when it responded to a direct call of the Peace Community of San Josè de Apartadò, located in Antioquia-Cordoba departments, whom members are determined to resist in a nonviolent way and be neutral towards any armed group (governmental army, guerrilla and paramilitary groups).
Operazione Colomba volunteers permanently live in the community's villages, sharing with the local population daily risks, contribute to reduce violence and forced displacement, accompany previously displaced people in their way back to their lands, protect leaders and members of communities living in “humanitarian areas”, allowing them to carry on their daily activities and to meet other leaders and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) working throughout the country with the same nonviolent strategies.

The ‘humanitarian areas’ are alternative spaces within the conflict, where arms and violence are not allowed, members work to organize and develop civil and peaceful resistance, whose pillars are solidarity and respect for life. They are not only a physical space, but the demonstration that there is a chance for civilians - many of whom are victims of the conflict - to demand respect from oppressors and violent actors. Civilian victims reject the passive role imposed on them and become leading actors of their destiny and of a nonviolent and lasting resolution of the armed conflict. The main problems they face are the presence of legal and illegal armed groups (“neoparamilitares”), defamation by local institutions and media, corruption of institutions and collusion with armed groups. The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó is one of the most concrete and effective experience of humanitarian area, founded in March 23 1997, following two massacres committed by the army. It is headed by an Internal Council composed by 8 members, the most exposed to violent attack for their recognized role of leaders and HRDs. The Peace Community also openly challenges an economic model based on human and environmental exploitation and violence by showing that a lifestyle that respects human beings and the environment is possible: for example, producing cocoa from organic farming and selling harvest through fair trade channels.

Civilian population who chose to continue living on its own land and working in harmony with the environment needs a daily presence of protection, accompaniment and monitoring to ensure the respect for human rights and reduce the impact of violence. Operazione Colomba presence ensures safe conditions for daily living and empowerment of HRDs and members of the Peace Community who are working on land and natural resources-related rights. Volunteers work in strict cooperation with local HRDs and communities, sharing strategies, organizations of accompaniment to protect HRDs, practical organization of activities and advocacy work to make local HRDs voices and experience heard.

On the 24th of November 2016, the Colombian Government and the FARC signed the New Peace Agreement after a 4-year negotiations which officially marked the end of 50 years of armed conflict. It is a historical and important step, but, unfortunately, we cannot say that it has brought peace to Colombia. Despite the signing of the Agreements, much of the civilian population, especially in rural areas, still lives under the constant threat of violence due to the persistent presence of the neo-paramilitary groups and the ELN guerrillas. The spiral of violence increased also because neo-paramilitary groups advanced to take control of the areas left by the FARC. In spite of peace agreements, there has been a dramatic escalation of the murders of HRDs, the main objective of the neo-paramilitary groups. According to INDEPAZ (International Institute for Development and Peace), in 2016, 117 HRDs were killed and 75% were engaged in issues related to the peace process, land restitution and participation policies in rural areas.  It is clear that the struggle for territorial control remains central to the dynamics of the conflict.