Colombia’s Constitutional Court found that there has been an increase in forced displacement in areas in the west of the country previously controlled by Marxist FARC guerrillas, local media reported.
The increase in forced displacement established by the court is happening simultaneously with the ongoing killing of social and community leaders, primarily in former FARC territory where the military apparently is failing to effectively impose authority.
Various illegal armed groups vie over the control of the territory left behind by the demobilizing guerrillas, putting the civilian population at risk of more war. Moreover, direct threats against community and social leaders have multiplied, the Judicial Corporacion found during a visit in the southern municipality of Bajo San Juan, Choco.
As a result, an increasing number of people from several communities fled their homes between 2014 and 2016. The situation worsened last year when the FARC began upholding a ceasefire.
The exacerbation of the situation was related to the anticipated withdrawal of the FARC from the region, and the consequent territorial disputes between the illegal armed groups that are still present in the area.
Only during the first five months of 2016, the fighting affected 4166 people from the municipality of San Juan Litoral, 1604 in the upper Baudo, and 200 in middle Baudo, according to the Court’s findings.
The Court called on the government to explain what measures it had taken to protect the Afro-descendant and indigenous communities living in the area.
On February 5, President Juan Manuel Santos for the third time announced the military offensive called “Plan Victoria,” claiming that 68,000 soldiers would be deployed in the 160 municipalities considered risk areas.
This offensive was initially supposed to take place last year already. However, in many parts of the territory chronically neglected by the state, the army is yet to be seen or has only had sporadic movements.