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Pope calls for prayer as he heads to Colombia

by Tola Mbakwe

The pope will be visiting Colombia from 6th September until 11th September, which will be the country's first visit by a pope in over 30 years.

Catholic humanitarian charity CAFOD has welcomed the pope's visit as Colombia deals with almost 60 years of internal armed conflict.

Clare Dixon, CAFOD's Head of Region for Latin America, said: "There is ongoing violence by the ELN and paramilitaries groups that continues to displace communities.

"In some parts of the country the conclusion of peace talks with the FARC and demobilisation of guerrilla members has created a power vacuum.

"Territory previously under influence of the FARC guerrillas is now being taken over by paramilitary groups and drug traffickers.

"We support community leaders and human rights defenders who are essential for achieving peace, yet despite the peace deal with the FARC, violence against them is increasing."

CAFOD said 51 human rights defenders were killed in the first six months of 2017, a 30 per cent increase from the same period in 2016.

The charity said Colombia's mining and energy-based economic model has displaced millions of people from their land and targets the poorest of the country's population.

CAFOD has called for a more inclusive discussion about how the government can ensure the economy serves the people and not vice versa.

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