A recent study shows that 6.65 million hectares of land has been abandoned or seized due to armed conflict in Colombia, making the land problem more extensive than originally thought.
The Monitoring Commission on Public Policy of Forced Displacement released their findings which showed an additional 1.15 hectares of land affected compared to past estimates by NGOs. Researcher Luis Jorge Garay said that the new figure is “equivalent to approximately 12.9% of agricultural land in the country.”
The new report reflects findings from a survey conducted from July to August in 68 municipalities of 26 departments in Colombia. Over 10,000 households were interviewed.
“This is the most ambitious survey (on displacement) that has been done in Colombia,” Garay said.
Marco Romero, the director of the group, said, “According to the survey, paramilitaries are responsible for 33 percent of incidents, the FARC are responsible for 25 percent, other guerrilla groups claim 11 percent, and illegal groups without an identity are responsible for 8 percent.”
This news comes on the heels of a recent UN report saying that forced displacement increases by 150,000 people each year, suggesting a growing problem.
Displaced Colombians have expressed feeling “abandoned” by the government. The Colombian government has moved forward with a plan to begin returning to land to 130,000 displaced families, and legislation is pending for broader reaching land restitution measures.
The US government has promised $30 million in aid for land restitution in Colombia.
Over 4 million Colombians are believed to have been displaced over the last several decades due to violence.