Bogota police forcibly removed eight displaced families Thursday from the Institute for Family Welfare building (ICBF) in the country’s capital after an occupation that lasted more than two years, El Espectador reports.
Of the 30 children and 24 adults who were removed, two women were injured when police fired gas cylinders through the windows.
Despite the families having sent a petition to the mayor of Bogota and tried to set up negotiations with the government requesting that they be able to stay or be granted relocation, this time, according to the police, the eviction could not be delayed.
An ICBF spokesperson said that they had carried out their role by providing assistance to more than 20 youths from the group. However, mothers of the children rejected these claims, saying that no assistance had ever been received from the ICBF nor Social Action, the presidential aid agency.
The only help currently available is a government offer to provide bus tickets to those wishing to return to their land. So far, only one of the families has accepted this, the others saying it would be better to live on the streets than to return home.
As a display of protest, one of the displaced persons tried to “crucify” themselves, nailing their hands to a wooden cross as they had done some months ago to demand relocation to a safer area. However, police prevented him from doing so.
A U.N. report from November 2010 confirmed that Colombia now has the highest number of internally displaced peoples in the world, with the figure standing at 3.7 million as a result of the decades long conflict.