Christophe Beney, who heads the International Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Colombia says, ""The south and the Pacific coast are among the areas worst affected by the armed conflict.Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are especially hard hit. Many are forced to flee because of threats to
their lives. Others are killed, injured or subjected to sexual violence. And yet most of their tragedies go unreported."
Beney highlighted official figures showing that 3.3 million people have been internally displaced, forced from their homes by the conflict, out of a population of 46 million.
Rafael Elias Fernandez, a representative for the Displaced Peoples Organization, says that the coastal communities have been "abandoned by the state" and that there are "many inconsistencies in the humanitarian aid" provided. The majority of these citizens were forced from their homes in the Montes de Maria mountain range and are now living in extreme poverty in the department capital.
In addition, the ICRC recorded 800 violations of international human rights law in Colombia in the last year. This figure includes 28 murders, 61 attacks on civilians, and 84 disappearances which are thought to be linked to the ongoing conflict."
The following is from the Latin Americanist.
Red Cross: Colombian victims "almost invisible"
Victims of Colombia’s armed conflict have become “almost invisible” to those in power according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The ICRC report on Colombia was released in Geneva on Monday and warned that the still bloody civil conflict in the country’s rural areas has become virtually ignored. "Many are being forced to flee because of threats to their lives. Other are subjected to extra-judicial killings or to sexual violence, and yet most of their tragedies go unreported," said the ICRC’s Christophe Beney. The report identified the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities as most in danger of the armed conflict and denounced the recruitment of minors as soldiers by illegal armed groups.
The ICRC also said that Colombia’s displace population, already one of the world’s biggest at over three million, continues to grow. A press release by the organization cited the plight of one such victim:
“We were in the house when we suddenly heard gunfire", explains María, who recently fled her home in the south of the country. "When we looked out into the courtyard, we saw my brother's body lying on the ground. They let us bury him, then they forced us to leave our village. Who knows what would have become of us if we had decided to stay.” When people like María are driven from their homes, they generally lose everything they have.The Colombian government subsequently condemned the ICRC’s assessment and several officials defended the so-called "democratic security" policies of President Alvaro Uribe. “The FARC still have the capacity to do harm, but they do not have a greater capacity now than they had 8 years ago,” claimed government peace commissioner Frank Pearl. Armed forces head Freddy Padilla denied ICRC claims that the leftist FARC guerillas have undergone a recent resurgence and said that the rebels are down to only 8000 soldiers.
Online Sources- International Committee of the Red Cross, Poder360, El Espectador, BBC News, EPA, Washington Post