Colombia: forced displacements continue
20-07-2004 News Release 04/86
Armed clashes and threats to the civilian population from armed groups have led to a mass displacement of peasants in the north-east and east of Colombia.
Since the beginning of April, large numbers of people in Antioquia department have had to move to San Francisco, Aquitania, Cocorná and San Carlos, four small communities surrounded by mountains.
Fighting between armed groups trying to seize control of the area have led to killings of civilians, mine accidents and the displacement of thousands of people.
The situation in the department deteriorated dramatically on 11 July, when the killing of seven peasants forced the inhabitants of Altos de Samaná to leave the district. The murdered farm workers and other peasants had only returned to the area with their families three months previously, after spending several years as displaced persons.
ICRC delegates’ first task will be to identify the most urgent needs in the area, after which they will start providing emergency assistance to over 1,900 people. Over a three-month period, the ICRC will be providing food, hygiene materials, cooking equipment, sleeping mats, sheets and blankets. Once the three months are over, state agencies will be responsible for helping displaced persons as required.
The conflict is affecting not only the eastern part of Antioquia, but also other parts of Colombia. Fighting is also causing displacement in Casanare and other departments of the Llanos Orientales region. Thousands of people are abandoning their land and everything they own, just to save their lives and those of their families.
For further information, please contact:
Carlos Ríos, ICRC Bogotá: tel. ++57 1 313 86 30
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58