It is difficult to find reliable statistics on the toll from the violence in Colombia. What is clear is that the scale of the suffering has been huge.
Especially at risk are those with high-profile roles in the community - including social leaders, political activists, human rights campaigners and trade unionists. Many indigenous communities have also suffered attacks.
Violent crime and kidnappings have, however, decreased in recent years. In May 2008, the government announced that kidnaps were at a 20-year low. Figures showed that from a high in 2000, when more than 3,500 people were seized, in 2007 just under 400 people were kidnapped. Of these, some 179 were freed.
But the fate of those taken hostage by rebels or seized by common criminals continues to resonate in Colombian society.
Over the decades, some three million people have been internally displaced by the fighting.
The UN says that many displaced people often end up living in shanty towns around the cities, where they have little access to health or educational services.
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