Authorities warn of the risk of mass forced displacement in Colombia’s Meta department, following an announcement by the FARC that they will enforce an “armed strike” in the area.
According to local new source Notillano.com, rural populations in the department have already began to leave and head towards the urban municipalities of Macarena and Uribe.
The situation in the zone is reported to be tense, with authorities struggling to retain control because of the size of the area in question. However locals are being asked to remain in their homes.
According to Colonel Javier Alirio Ramos Obando, the FARC is pressuring locals to leave their property, but the number of displaced is not yet known.
RCN Radio reports that local Mayor Eliecer Vargas Moreno said that the guerrillas were pressuring farmers to leave their land prior to a meeting on human rights in the region scheduled for July 22, in a bid to portray the national government as incapable of protecting its citizens.
Vargas Moreno said number of displaced could be as high as 2,000.
A security council meeting will be called by Meta Governor Dario Vasquez Thursday to discuss the security situation.
General Jaime Esguerra, the commander of national army’s fourth division ordered the deployment of extra ground troops to the area.