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Colombia: ICRC provides over 4,400 people with emergency aid

02-09-2008 News Release 08/163

Geneva/Bogotá (ICRC) – In the past few weeks, clashes between government forces and armed groups have had a serious impact on inhabitants of the Colombian departments of Cauca and Nariño.

Over 4,400 people have either fled their homes or can no longer carry out their usual subsistence activities. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just completed an emergency distribution of 60 tonnes of food and hygiene items to these people.

In Cauca, more than 1,300 people from various villages have streamed into the town of López de Micay. Meanwhile, over 350 residents can no longer farm as it is too dangerous to venture into the fields. In Nariño, more than 1,000 people from the towns of Barbacoas, Satinga and Policarpa have been forced to abandon their land, and over 1,750 Policarpa residents have had to stop working, leaving them unable to provide for their families. Many of the displaced are women and children who are now sharing cramped quarters with local residents.

" The armed conflict in these areas is very worrying, both for the displaced and for other residents, " said Serge Thierry, head of the ICRC's office in Cali. " Many people have no choice but to abandon their homes and, consequently, their sources of income. "

The ICRC continues to be concerned by the intensification of the armed conflict in this part of Colombia, which in recent months has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safer areas and has prevented other residents from working. The organization will continue to monitor needs and provide humanitarian assistance as required.

For further information, please contact:
  Yves Heller, ICRC Bogotá, tel. +57 1 313 86 30 or +57 311 491 07 89
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2458 or +41 79 217 32 24