Attacks against civilians in Colombia continued to increase in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to the United Nations.
In the latest report on the humanitarian situation in the South American country, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) registered a slight decrease in combat, mass displacement and restriction of movement, but an increase in attacks on civilians.
Monthly average of conflict-related events
The report, which deals with a range of issues, revealed that intentional homicides against civilians rose by 55% from 323 to 501 between the first half of 2018 and the same period this year. Civilians injured in war actions went from 17 to 33, representing an increase of 94%.
There was also an increase in cases of torture with 10 cases being reported in the first half of 2018 and 18 in the same period of this year with attacks on the lives of civilians increasing from 28 to 42.
Overall, the OCHA notes that events affecting the civilian population rose from 981 in 2018 to 1,089 in 2019 with 93% of victims being from Afro-Colombian or indigenous decent.
Colombia clashes with UN over registered increase in violence
Forced displacement and restricted movement
In addition to the increase of violence against civilians, forced displacement continues to be a major problem with 11,917 forced from their homes in the first part of 2019.
According to the report, in at least 40% of cases, the responsibility lies with paramilitary AGC and dissident FARC groups.
The research found that in total in Colombia, 359,198 people live with restrictions and limitations of movement in their territories.
The report claims that in the first half of this year, 28,326 children were affected by mobility restrictions with the situation having worsened in the Colombian Pacific, mainly in the provinces of Choco and Nariño.
■ Forced displacement | ■ Forced displacement and restriction of movement
The OCHA specifies that in comparison with the first half of 2018, this year the blockages to the roads have increased going from 20 to 25 with attacks on military infrastructure increasing from 37 to 44.
Armed clashes too have seen an increase, rising from 83 to 96, compared to the same period last year, mainly affecting the provinces of Antioquia, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Cauca and Arauca.
Homicides and massacres in Colombia up in 2018 after years of decline
Ivan Duque’s first year as president has been marred by increasing violence against community leaders, civil rights activists and journalists as the government fails to control what appears to be a systematic campaign against certain sectors of society.
Duque’s decision to end talks with the last remaining rebel group, the ELN has seen the guerrillas grow in number, which has effected civilian life across the country.
In addition to this, the failure of the government to move into areas vacated by the FARC rebels of their 2017 demobilization has created a vacuum where dissidents and other drug-trafficking groups vie for territorial control with the civilian population often terrorized in the process.
Despite an ongoing peace process with the now-demobilized FARC rebels, the country is becoming increasingly overrun by paramilitary drug-trafficking groups, making reality for thousands of Colombian’s civilians is a difficult one.
In fact, while in 2016 there was an average of 101 violent events per month, in 2019 the figure has increased to 182, according to the report.
Colombia’s defense minister clashed with the United Nations in May of this year over a report that warned about increasing violence in the South American country.
Defense Minister Guillermo Botero challenged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ claim in in a similar report that Colombia saw an upsurge in violence last year.