Address by Minister Bibeau announcing Canadian funding for development projects in Colombia
July 5, 2016 – Bogotá, Colombia
Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.
I am pleased to be with you today on this historic occasion in Colombia.
For some 60 years, Canada and Colombia have maintained a rich and diverse relationship.
It is a relationship characterized by bilateral trade and major private-sector investment.
It is also a relationship that embodies a long tradition of cooperation.
Canada and Colombia share the same values and are partners on multiple levels.
Today, we celebrate our partnering for peace. For many years, Canada has supported your country in its efforts to pave the way for peace and reconciliation.
Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has high praise for your government’s efforts to negotiate peace after 50 years of armed conflict.
The signing of a ceasefire agreement in Havana marks a turning point in Colombia’s history. It is very inspiring for me to be right here with you to witness these winds of change.
This agreement is an important milestone in Colombia’s path to lasting peace. Colombians themselves will take part in the peacekeeping process. They must reap the benefits of their efforts.
I have come here to tell you that Canada will continue standing by Colombia’s side throughout this journey, ready to help build and implement long-lasting peace and prosperity.
In practical terms, we are announcing that, effective immediately, we are helping to fund peacekeeping and security initiatives, as well as development initiatives.
Canada will invest $57.4 million in five projects that will make a genuine difference in the lives of Colombians.
These projects directly affect a group that is particularly dear to my heart: women and girls.
Colombian women have proven to be leaders in their communities, ardent defenders of rights and courageous witnesses to the legacy of the conflict. Their contribution will be essential for the implementation of lasting peace.
Canada salutes the perseverance and strength of Colombian women.
Through no fault of their own, they have clearly suffered more than men in this conflict.
When a woman can no longer farm a piece of land because it contains dozens of hidden anti-personnel mines, she can no longer feed her family or earn an income from it.
When a teenage girl becomes pregnant because of a sexual assault, she has no choice but to drop out of school. She is not equipped to take charge of her life.
When children are no longer safe on their way to school because they might step on a landmine, their future, and that of the entire country, is jeopardized.
Fortunately, today, these sad examples can become things of the past.
The projects we are announcing offer a glimmer of hope to all Colombians who have been marginalized as a result of this conflict.
With the signing of the historic ceasefire agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the prospect of peace and finding a resolution to this decades-long conflict in the Americas is closer than ever.
Let me tell you about the projects Canada is funding.
After 50 years of conflict, Colombians need to see without delay the benefits of peace.
Our contribution of $20 million over three years to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund of the United Nations for Post-Conflict in Colombia will enable UN agencies, the Government of Colombia and civil society organizations to quickly reach communities affected by conflict. This step is incredibly important, and I want to salute the work of the Government of Colombia for having put in place the mechanisms that will allow rapid investments in peace and development.
Our contribution of $12.5 million over five years to the HALO Trust will help Colombia meet its commitments under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to eliminate mines from 10 municipalities. This will allow 60,000 displaced people to return to their homes.
Canada’s contribution of $18.9 million over five years to Plan International Canada will give children and women who have suffered from war greater financial and social stability. This contribution will also encourage girls to participate in peacebuilding activities.
In my position as minister of international development and La Francophonie, I will be paying close attention to ensure that our projects include women and that their voices are heard and respected when decisions are being made. Because women are powerful agents of change and of peace.
Finally, our $6-million investment in two other projects will provide rural credit to women small-scale farmers in conflict zones and allow 1,500 children to return to school.
These are practical examples of the possibilities offered by peace, as well as practical examples of Canada’s commitment to the people of Colombia.
Because we know that there can be no development without peace, and lasting peace will only happen if we give women and girls the possibility to express themselves and be part of making decisions.
Office of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
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