Nearly 90,000 Colombians were forced from their homes by violence or intimidation in the first half of 2011, according to a report published on Friday by the Office of Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES).
CODHES director Marco Romero told the media, “the forced eviction of thousands of people confronted by guns, bombardments and air strikes continues in the middle of a conflict that persists without a military solution.”
According to CODHES, the situation has changed little under the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos, despite the rapidly changing nature of Colombia’s conflict.
The NGO state neo-paramilitary groups and criminal gangs such as the “Aguilas Negras,” “Los Rastrojos” and “Los Machos” were responsible for most of the forced displacement, followed by guerrilla groups and the Colombian army.
Romero said the “new paramilitary groups are in a good part of the national territory and are consolidating a strategy of control and intimidation of the population aimed at avoiding the restitution of land to displaced people.”
He also singled out the guerrillas for their use of anti-personnel landmines and indiscriminate weaponry and for their forced recruitment of children and teenagers.
The director added, “all the irregular armed groups gravitate to legal and illegal exploitation of gold and other minerals as much as the illegal economy, including drug trafficking.”
The director suggested the forthcoming elections also played a role in displacement “as armed groups and mafias try to maintain or expand their local institutional control and co-opt the state for their criminal ends.”
CODHES estimated there are over five million displaced people in Colombia, over 10% of the population.