39 of Colombia’s cities affected by armed conflict: Red Cross

(Photo: AFP)

Thirty-nine of Colombia’s cities continue to be impacted by violence related to the country’s ongoing internal armed conflict, said the Red Cross’ (ICRC) at the presentation of an annual report on the Colombian humanitarian situation Friday.

According to Jordi Raich, the  ICRC’s coordinator in Colombia, “not only [cities like] Medellin and Buenaventura are exposed to the humanitarian problems derived from the violence.”

Southwestern Colombian cities like Cali, Tumaco and Quibdo are particularly experiencing high-levels of conflict related violence said Raich.

Raich said that ongoing forced displacement, forced disappearances, sexual violence, homicides and the recruitment of minors into criminal gangs, are all acts of violence related to the armed conflict that has lasted 50 years.

The ICRC reportedly documented 207 violations of human rights in the 39 urban centers.

Medellin and the Pacific port city of Buenaventura have gained national and international notoriety both recently and historically for high violence rates. Currently these cities are predominantly affected by criminal groups competing for drug trafficking and extortion privileges.

The spike in criminal groups was seen following the demobilization of the AUC – Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Hundreds if not thousands of former AUC members have integrated themselves into new criminal groups like “Los Urabeños” and “Los Rastrojos.”

Other cities noted by the ICRC for their conflict-related violence are the second largest Pacific port city of Tumaco and San Jose de Guaviare, the capital of the central state of Guaviare. Both cities are hotbeds for rebel groups like the FARC and ELN.

The report is expected to be released to the public this weekend.


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