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Colombia: ICRC assists indigenous population displaced by violence

03-04-2009 News Release 09/71

Bogotá (ICRC) – In Chocó department, western Colombia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has distributed food and other items such as hygiene articles, cooking equipment and hammocks to around 600 indigenous people.

In mid-March, the inhabitants of the Purricha river basin near the municipality of Bajo Baudó were forced to flee their homes because of the armed conflict in the region. Many of those affected are women and children.

The communities, made up of indigenous Emberá people, spent several days crossing the jungle before gathering in the town of Pizarro and the settlement of Bocas de Pegadó, where they received emergency aid from the ICRC between 25 March and 1 April.

This displacement follows swiftly on the heels of others in the region, which have also affected the indigenous communities. The ICRC has in particular provided emergency assistance to around 160 people from the Emberá communities of Nuncidó, in Alto Baudó, and Santa Rita de Iró, in Río Iró.

The ICRC delegate responsible for the area, Silvia Padrón, was present as the aid was distributed. " On their arrival, people were very distressed because they had become separated from many members of their family and neighbours in the jungle while fleeing the fighting.”

The ICRC continues to be concerned by the plight of the civilian population in this area, since they have suffered the consequences of the armed conflict for several weeks now. The ICRC will remain in the area to assist the victims of the conflict, in accordance with its mandate as an impartial and independent humanitarian organization.

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