Ein Bauer in der Provinz Quindío, Kolumbien

Social situation Land distribution crucial for social peace

In the past few years, significant progress has been made on poverty reduction through a large number of economic and social reforms. Between 2008 and 2018, the poverty rate fell from 42 to 27 per cent. 

However, the distribution of income and wealth is still extremely unequal in Colombia compared with other countries in the region and worldwide. Poverty levels are disproportionately high in rural regions that are home to ethnic minorities.

Displacement and land theft

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Colombia has the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world. Nearly eight million people were displaced by the conflict. The military conflict was exploited for illegal land grabs. Armed groups occupied several million hectares of farmland. After the smallholders had been forcibly displaced, the land was then used for large-scale agro-industrial projects.

According to UNHCR, another 118,000 people were forcibly displaced in 2018. Activists who engage in advocacy for the victims of land grabs risk their lives. The number of killings of human rights defenders has risen massively over the past few years.

The government is planning to set up a nationwide land register. This would be an important step with a view to accelerating the restitution of land to displaced persons and, in the longer term, addressing questions of land redistribution.

Immigration from Venezuela

Another challenge for the government and society is the political and economic instability in Venezuela. By the end of 2019, as many as 1.5 million refugees and migrants from that country had already come to Colombia. It is becoming more and more difficult for host communities to uphold social services for the refugees and for the local population. This is putting strain on the fragile peace situation in Colombia.