80.7 percent of Colombia’s displaced population – in total more than a quarter of a million people – are poverty-stricken, a Colombian NGO told the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Wednesday.
“Before being displaced, 51% of refugee families were poor and 30.5% were poverty-stricken whereas after being displaced 96.6% of these families are poor and 80.7% are stricken,” said a spokesperson for the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), reported newspaper El Espectador on Thursday.
The spokesperson also signalled that the majority of these destitute families were forced to leave their rural, agricultural farmland and were relocated to large urban centers.
According to CODHES some 5.5 million hectares have been forcibly abandoned since 1998 due to the pressure of violent conflict which has affected a resulting 385 thousand families.
These figures allegedly do not include the land disposession of indigenous and afro-descendant communities, who in the last three years, have suffered accutely from invasion of their territories by illegal armed groups and the soldiers who are battling these rebels.
The loss of land and loss of profit associated with the inevitable decline in food production represents 49.7 billion pesos which is equivalent to 11.6% of Colombia’s GDP in 2007.
Th Constitutional Court ordered the government to review the land allocation and restitution policy for families displaced by violence after admitting that it has failed to serve the rights of those affected.
CODHES highlighted that “over the past seven years more than two million people have been displaced in Colombia, which questions the effectiveness of the ‘democtratic security’ policy which is one of the pillars of the Alvaro Uribe Government.”
According to CODHES the refugees are fleeing regions where there are outbreaks of conflict between the Armed Forces and guerrilla factions as well as areas where coca plantations are being cultivated and lastly, departments where paramilitary gangs have resurfaced.