Colombia’s Catholic church says there are more than 3.8 million displaced people in the country.
The church praised the government’s initiatives to compensate displaced people and restore them to their lands. President Juan Manuel Santos has announced that he will present to Congress a Land Restitution Law aimed at returning land to those who were displaced.
Most of Colombia’s internal refugees were forced from their land by violence from guerrillas or paramilitary groups.
The church’s charity body Pastoral Social has registered 2.8 million hectares of land that were seized from Colombians, but warned that the actual figure could be closer to 5 million.
“We have a register based on the complaints that have reached us, but we don’t take into consideration the sub-registers or inter-urban displacement, which would raise almost to double the number of displaced,” said Monseñor Hector Fabio Henao, Pastoral Social’s director.
The church’s estimate is lower than the figure recently cited by Constitutional Court magistrate Luis Ernesto Vargas, who said that 10% of Colombia’s population, around 4.5 million people, are displaced.