Cologne/Bogotá. This Sunday, Colombians will head to the polls for the second time in less than a month to vote their next president. The first round of elections in May proved inconclusive as none of the candidates achieved the absolute majority needed for an outright win. The elections are the first since the 2016 historic peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla movement. However, the outcome of Sunday’s runoff election could have a significant impact on the already fragile peace deal.
Conservative candidate, Ivan Duque, a critic of the peace accord came out first with 39 percent of the vote, and will face the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, who finished second with 25.1 percent. Duque has pledged to make structural modifications to the peace deal, prompting fears for the future of the peace agreement.
“I believe it is very important that the peace process continues regardless of the outcome of the elections,” said Jelena Kaifenheim, Malteser International's Program Coordinator for Latin America, adding that a peaceful resolution to the conflict would be beneficial to all parties involved. “This is the time for reconciliation for Colombia, and a return to civil war should be avoided,” she said.
In recent weeks, there have been reports of criminal activities by armed groups exploiting the vacuum created by the lack of government presence in many areas. "The security situation has worsened considerably, especially in La Guajira, where we work,” said Kaifenheim. “This has made it more difficult for our employees and partners to carry out their work. It is absolutely necessary that the ceasefire remains in place.”
Malteser International has been working in close cooperation with the local association of the Order of Malta in Colombia for about three years. Its work is focused on rural development and improving access to healthcare for the local population. Since 2018, Malteser International has been working with local officials to support Venezuelan refugees in Riohacha and in neighboring villages in the department of La Guajira. Health teams are providing medical care, distributing hygiene materials, and carrying out vaccination control. Undernourished children and pregnant women also receive food assistance.
Note to editors:
Jelena Kaifenheim, Program Coordinator for Latin America at Malteser International is available for interviews.
Tel.: +49 (0)221 96441 181
We are urgently calling for donations to help refugees and displaced persons in Latin America.
Reference: “People in need around the world”