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Colombia: ICRC helps displaced persons in Catatumbo

17-02-2012 News Release 12/32

Bogotá (ICRC) – On 17 February 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will distribute food, hygiene kits and essential household items to 336 displaced persons in the municipality of El Tarra in the Catatumbo region of the department of Norte de Santander.

In the words of Roman Machover, head of the ICRC office in Bucaramanga, "The plight of these people is extremely worrying. Fear of the continual clashes and attacks has made them abandon their homes, jobs and crops. They have lost all their sources of income."

Some 87 families have fled from Motilandia, where numerous clashes have taken place in recent weeks. They are all staying in temporary shelters provided by the local council.  

The ICRC's humanitarian assistance comes in addition to the financial support it provided two weeks ago to the first 280 people who left Motilandia.

The population of El Tarra is also experiencing difficulties in obtaining access to health care. The municipality has been without a permanent ambulance service since October 2011 and is running out of basic medical supplies to treat the sick and wounded. The ICRC is trying to alleviate this situation.

The ICRC accompanied staff from the Colombian Family Welfare Institute in order that they might assess the nutritional and psychological status of displaced and local children. Schools in the area are closed because teachers and parents are afraid to send their children to school because of the frequent clashes and attacks.

In accordance with its mandate to protect and help victims of armed conflict, the ICRC will be present in the field to closely monitor the situation of the civilian population in the Catatumbo region. The ICRC reminds all parties to the armed conflict of their duty to respect and protect civilians and their property in accordance with humanitarian law.

For further information, please contact:
María Cristina Rivera, ICRC Bogotá, tel. +57 311 491 07 75
Faruk Saman, ICRC Medellín, tel. +57 313 433 66 08


Photos

Nearly 400 people have been displaced from a rural area in the municipality of El Tarra, Catatumbo region, in northern Colombia near the border with Venezuela. 

Nearly 400 people have been displaced from a rural area in the municipality of El Tarra, Catatumbo region, in northern Colombia near the border with Venezuela.
© ICRC

Constant violent clashes forced these people to leave their homes. They are currently taking  refuge in El Tarra's cultural centre. 

Constant violent clashes forced these people to leave their homes. They are currently taking refuge in El Tarra's cultural centre.
© ICRC

The ICRC distributed emergency aid to help ease the humanitarian crisis. People are suffering food shortages as they cannot access their crops due to the violence. 

The ICRC distributed emergency aid to help ease the humanitarian crisis. People are suffering food shortages as they cannot access their crops due to the violence.
© ICRC