Civilian casualties of Colombia’s armed conflict

(Image by Aniara). [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Colombia’s armed conflict left more than 262,000 people dead. 120,000 are still missing. The vast majority of these victims were civilians.

The most reliable statistics were released by the National Center for Historic Memory (CNMH), which has been investigating the number of civilian casualties since 2011.

The CNMH study showed that 82% of the people who died during the armed conflict were civilians. Less than 18% of the deaths after 1958 were either soldiers, paramilitaries or guerrillas.


Combatants vs civilians

Source: National Center for Historical Memory


Far-right paramilitary groups like the AUC killed almost 100,000 of these civilian victims. Guerrilla groups like the FARC, ELN, and M-19 killed more than 35,000, according to the CNMH.

The researchers were unable to determine responsibility in the deaths of almost 36,000 civilians.


Who killed civilians during the armed conflict

Source: National Center for Historical Memory


Earlier reports of the CNMH put the number of killed civilians considerably lower.

The vast majority of the civilians who were killed did not die as the result of combat, but because they were assassinated by one of the armed actors in the conflict.


Causes of civilian deaths

Source: National Center for Historical Memory


A CNMH report from 2018 warned that the real number of fatal victims is likely to be much higher as more than 80,000 people were forcibly disappeared and 40,000 never returned after being kidnapped.

The bodies of only 8,000 of these missing persons have been found after they were taken by one of the actors in the conflict.

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