This month we held a special academic conference at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (SBC). It was special for two reasons:
1) It drew attention to Colombia’s displaced population (5 million since 1960) as a result of the country’s history of political violence (which is still ongoing).
2) It was a joint conference with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles and represented the first step toward creating an accredited masters program here at the BSC.
A conference on displacement
Colombia ranks in the top 3 countries of the world with the highest internally displaced population. The latest statistics indicate that as many as 5 million people (8% of the population) have had to flee their homes as a result of the country’s historical and ongoing political violence.
The main cause of the displacement is the on-going civil war which has pitted leftist guerrilla forces against government-backed paramilitary groups. These armed groups and their conflict have cut a wide swath of violence, social terrorism, extortion, and human rights abuses across many rural parts of the country forcing its civilian populations (sometimes entire towns) to flee for their safety.
The displaced, who have unjustly and violently lost family, land and personal property typically arrive to the margins of large urban areas, where they lack adequate protection, employment, food, shelter and health care.
The academic conference brought together the disciplines of sociology, psychology and theology plus12 different speakers from both schools to raise awareness, to educate and to discuss the church’s response this multi-faceted and tragic issue affecting so many Colombians. Some of our own SBC students have been the victims of this displacement, so the discussion is not merely academic.