Colombia / Venzuela: Return of 2,200 colombias from Venezuela
10-06-1999 News Release 99/23
Following violent clashes between Colombian autodefensa groups and opposition forces, which claimed some 10 lives last week in the village of La Gabarra (department of Norte de Santander), close to 2,200 Colombians crossed the border into Venezuela. They were repatriated on 5 and 6 June to Cúcuta, the capital of the department. The operation was carried out in coordination with the Venezuelan and Colombian authorities and all the repatriations were voluntary.
On 3 June, an ICRC delegate based in Cúcuta travelled to La Gabarra to assess the humanitarian situation. At the request of the authorities (who also asked for assistance from UNHCR), the head of the ICRC mission in Venezuela visited the first civilians who had arrived from across the border. These people were taken charge of by the Venezuelan armed forces and transported by road and helicopter to accommodation at the military base in the village of Casigua and in other public buildings.
As there was a possibility that other Colombian civilians would try to cross the border, Venezuelan Red Cross volunteers remained in the area to provide any necessary humanitarian aid.