In 2017, we followed up on more than 550 cases of recent violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, both in historically vulnerable areas and places where armed groups have reorganized. We are particularly concerned about the departments of Chocó, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Cauca, Guaviare, Antioquia, Arauca and Caquetá.
It is worrying just how many cases of such violations continue to occur. They include disappearances, death threats, targeted killings, sexual violence, large and small-scale displacement, extortion, confinement, accidents caused by anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices, social control, and the recruitment of children by armed groups and gangs.
We cannot reiterate enough that compliance with humanitarian law is not optional. Both security forces and armed groups in the country must comply with these rules and keep the civil population out of hostilities. Gangs must also ensure they keep civilians out of harm's way.
The Unit for the Victims Assistance and Reparation reported that last year there were nearly 77,000 victims of the armed conflict and other violence. While the figure itself is alarming, we must not forget that behind each number is a family's story of grief and sorrow – one that no family should ever have to experience.
As a result of this worrying trend and the weak response from the authorities, our teams carried out 14 emergency humanitarian operations in 2017 alone. Most of these operations took place along the Pacific coast and provided support to those who had been displaced or confined due to armed clashes.
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