For over five decades, Colombia was wracked by a civil war. The vicious, ongoing fighting left millions of people killed, injured, missing or displaced—many of them children.
The Colombian government estimates that 3.6 million people have been displaced since 2000; 75 per cent are women and children, many of whom now live in shanty towns around major cities and have little access to medical care, education, safe water and basic health services.
FARC (the most notorious and powerful insurgent group) signed a historic peace treaty in 2016 with the government, but splinter groups have rejected the peace deal and trafficking cartels and gangs still control large swaths of the nation. Violence is rising once again. Colombia remains one of the world’s top cocaine producers—and Australia is a significant export market.
Conservative Ivan Duque of the Democratic Centre Party won the Presidential election in 2018, becoming one of the nation’s youngest leaders. So far, his response to the COVID-19 pandemic has won him approval and seen his popularity soar. Yet allegations of vote-rigging and corruption against his administration persist.
And the poorest sections of society, including Colombia’s indigenous people, continue to struggle.
One-third of all Colombian children suffer from anaemia, and approximately 13 per cent of children under five years old suffer growth stunting caused by chronic malnutrition. Around four per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 are involved in child labour, which can interfere with their ability to attend school and expose them to dangerous situations.
Across the country, local churches continue to support and encourage children and their families, reaching out to those in need. With support from Compassion and generous sponsors, these local churches work to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.