Human rights group Amnesty International is exaggerating figures on
displacement in Colombia, the country’s government said Thursday.
According to Armando Escobar of Accion Social, the presidential agency for displacement, 180,000 Colombians were forced to leave their home because of violence in the country in 2008. Amnesty International claimed Wednesday that a record number of 380 thousand were displaced.
Escobar told newspaper El Tiempo the high number of registered displaced was caused by a ruling by the State Council that allowed people that had been displaced in an earlier year to register. The same ruling ordered children of displaced families to be registered as well, something that was not done before.
Accion Social was recently criticized by Colombia’s Constitutional Court for trying to downplay the seriousness of displacement in Colombia and “insufficiently” reports on the situation of displacement correctly.
Last week, the mayor of a town in north Antioquia, where the army and guerrillas are involved in heavy fighting, said Accion Socialwas reluctant to register more than three quarters of the thousand displaced that arrived in the town.
Colombia has the largest number of displaced in the world. In between three and four million people are estimated to have been forced to leave their homes and lands because of violence.