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Colombia: ICRC brings emergency relief to over 2,200 displaced persons

22-11-2005 News Release 05/85

On 17 November, over 2,200 people fled their homes in different villages in the municipality of Samaná (department of Caldas), 150 kilometres west of Bogotá, as a result of armed clashes in the region. The displaced, who numbered around 600 families, headed for the municipal capital, which they reached after more than five hours of hard walking.

The same day, ICRC delegates travelled to the municipality to conduct a census of the displaced population and assess their needs. " They are utterly destitute " , said ICRC delegate Ana María Altherr. " It's so sad to see the villages empty and all the houses shuttered up; all the locals have left " .

On 20 November, five ICRC trucks carrying 40 tonnes of food, kitchen utensils, mattresses and hygiene items were sent to Samaná from Bogotá and Medellín. The next day, the ICRC began to distribute relief to the displaced families who had, up until then, received nothing.

The local authorities are concerned that, so far, only the ICRC is on the spot and providing emergency assistance. Almost all the displaced are housed in three schools, while some are staying with family or friends.

Those displaced persons who work on coffee plantations are very worried that they will lose this year's second harvest, as the beans were supposed to be picked this week and next.

Displacement continues to be one of the main causes of the humanitarian crisis in Colombia.

 For more information please contact:  

 Yves Heller, ICRC Bogotá, tel. ++ 571 313 86 30 or ++ 57 311 4 91 07 89  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 24 58 or ++ 41 79 217 32 24