Over 10,000 displaced people are seeking refuge in Caribbean state Atlantico, already this year, as a result of the country’s ongoing armed conflict, reported El Heraldo newspaper.
The northern department of Atlantico received 10,614 internally displaced people between January and March, according to figures from the Victims’ Attention and Reparation Unit.
Atlantico ended 2013 with 170,991 internally displaced people seeking refuge from Colombia’s armed conflict. The additional 10,614 displaced citizens marked a 6.2% increase in the total number seeking refuge in Atlantico stated Alfredo Palencia, the Victims Unit regional director.
In an ongoing conflict that has seen the deaths of more than 220,000 people since 1958, Colombia now has one of the world’s highest populations of internally displaced citizens. According to the UNHCR, March 2013 figures revealed that 4.7 million people were internally displaced within Colombia.
The Victims’ Attention and Reparation Unit classifies “internal displacement victims” as Colombian residents who have suffered human right’s violations since 10 January 1985, and general leads to land dispossession.
The 181,605 people who sought refuge in the Atlantic have been victims of displacement due to threats, land dispossession, sexual violence, terrorism, recruitment, kidnapping, torture and murder.
Palencia states the increase of registered displacement victims is due to a higher proportion of victims coming forward to seek help, increased violence nationwide, and a third group making false declarations and seeking to benefit from the armed conflict.
Atlantico is one of the least affected regions on the Caribbean coast by internal displacement. During March 2014, displacement refugee figures in the different Caribbean areas were:
- Bolivar : 357 309
- Magdalena : 343 524
- Caesar : 279,991
- Sucre: 259,464
- Cordoba: 256,958
- La Guajira: 124,378
On Wednesday Colombia will commemorate National Victim’s Day, to remember all those who lost their lives and suffered throughout the armed conflict.