With the death of yet another toddler, a total of 25 children have died of malnutrition in northern Colombia’s La Guajira province alone so far this year, local media reported Monday.
The two-year-old died in the arms of his grandmother Monday afternoon while waiting at the Manaure clinic for an ambulance that never came, local indigenous leader Armando Pabon told newspaper El Tiempo.
All 25 children belonged to the Wayuu indigenous community, whose native lands lie in the coastal deserts of north Colombia and parts of the northeast of Venezuela.
The region has been one of the hardest hit by the El Niño weather phenomenon. However, locals also blame the local Cerrejon coal mine, the biggest open pit coal mine in the country, and state neglect for the life-threatening conditions of poverty and drought.
To force government action, the indigenous went to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which ordered the local, regional and national governments to take immediate action and alleviate the precarious situation of the Wayuu, apparently without result.
La Guajira is one of the richest provinces of Colombia in terms of natural resources. However, at the same time the province’s inhabitants are among the poorest in the country.
Widespread corruption that has been rife for decades is causing humanitarian aid funds, and water and food supplies to evaporate before arriving at the remote areas of the Guajira peninsula.