Lutheran World Federation urges Colombian warring parties to seize peace talks' chance

(Photo: LWF Colombia)Lutheran World Federation World Service team visiting remote rural communities affected by the conflict in Colombia in 2015.

Warring parties in Colombia should seize an opportunity to build a new society in which conflicts will be solved by dialogue at peace talks in the South American country, says the Lutheran World Federation

The LWF expressed appreciation and support on April 4 for the start of peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), one of the main parties in the ongoing Colombia conflict.

"The parties should take advantage of this favorable opportunity to build a new society in which conflicts will be solved by dialogue and not by arms and in which democratic participation by all sectors of society is encouraged," said LWF general secretary, Rev. Martin Junge.

The conflict in Colombia has waged for more than 50 years.

It has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people have died, mostly civilians and more than 15,000 people are missing.

The ongoing guerilla warfare has displaced millions of people. Frequently rebel sabotage activities have left hundreds of thousands without clean water and electricity.

Junge said the launching of a process of dialogue and negotiation with the ELN constitutes a crucial opportunity for discussing outstanding issues in the national debate.

These include environmental conflicts, the management of natural and mining energy resources, the exploitation of hydrocarbons and the need of a model of development which is environmentally sustainable.

This should respect the rights and safeguards the livelihood of the rural and indigenous population and that of people of African descent.

In July 2015, the LWF together with more than 130 ecumenical and faith-based organizations signed an appeal to the main negotiators of the peace talks in Havana, calling for a bilateral ceasefire between the government forces and the FARC guerilla movement.

"We urge the parties to adopt measures to scale down the conflict and demilitarize the regions," said Junge.

The LWF said it would offer its internartional services, knowledge and experience accumulated in the country as a humanitarian and development organization.

"As a communion of churches and a faith based organization, we appeal to the Christian values of striving for equality, dignity, justice and peace, paying special attention to the sectors and persons who are most marginalized and oppressed," said Junge.

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