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Colombia: violence in Urabá

19-10-1995 News Release 42

Abject poverty, the absence of social services and clashes between various armed groups are the main factors that have unleashed a deadly wave of violence in Urabá, one of Colombia's most prosperous areas.

Since the beginning of this year, over 100 people have been killed in senseless massacres and about 700 more in isolated incidents in this banana-producing region in the north-west of the country, near the border with Panama. This has prompted the ICRC, in pursuance of its basic mandate, to increase the number of delegates on the spot to four in an effort to reach the scattered civilian population and the warring parties more directly so as to spread knowledge and promote observance of international humanitarian law.

The ICRC delegates are also visiting persons detained in connection with the conflict, helping to contact separated family members, exchanging messages between them and distributing relief supplies to people displaced by the violence.

Although the problems in Urabá are extremely complex owing to the large number of parties to the conflict and the different interests involved, the ICRC is carrying out its task of protecting the victims in complete impartiality and working for the application of international humanitarian law, so vital in this type of situation.