Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday urged the government to halt the activities of paramilitaries in north western Colombia, claiming that there is an imminent threat of forced displacement in the region.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international NGO dedicated to preserving and protecting human rights across the world, on Tuesday released a report of an investigation almost two years in the making about Colombia’s internally displaced population, warning that “if Colombia does not take further action to stop the [death threats, intimidation, and killing], the problem [facing Colombia’s displaced] is likely to get much worse.”
According to AI, the Colombian government has been made aware of these paramilitary movements, but have failed to take decisive action. The NGO claim that paramilitary forces have reached the areas of Bijao, El Limón, and the two areas Nueva Vida and Nueva Esperanza en Dios, known as Humanitarian Zones, of the Cacarica River Basin, Ríosucio Municipality, Department of Chocó.
Paramilitaries have stated that they are in possession of a list of community leaders who they label as guerrilla collaborators. Witness reports claim on September 3, approximately 100 paramilitaries descended upon the Cacarica River Basin reportedly to “teach a lesson” to the inhabitants.
Furthermore, Sembrandopaz, an organisation with the goal of accompanying community processes of justice and peace building in the Montes de María and Caribbean region of Colombia, stated via press release that their director and employees face continued threats from authorities and paramilitary groups.
Over many years paramilitary forces have continued to maintain a strong presence in the north of Colombia and in particular the north of Chocó Department where they operate in close collusion with the XVII Brigade of the Colombian armed forces. This collusion has been denounced repeatedly by Colombian non- governmental human rights organizations and international NGOs from the late 1990’s to the present day, cited as a reason for Colombia’s extreme levels of internally displaced.
Colombia is estimated to have between 4.9 and 5.5 million internally displaced persons. BBC estimate that in 2012 alone, 230,000 were forced to flee their homes as a result of the internal armed conflict.
- Press release from Sembrandopaz
- E-Mail from Amnesty International
- Colombia tops IDMC internally displaced people list