Almost 700 people have been displaced from a municipality on Colombia’s Pacific coast since March 15, when the army and the country’s largest rebel group FARC began intense fighting in the area.
The fighting is taking place in the department of Cauca. The 29th Front of FARC took over the rural areas alongside the river Guapi and the ongoing confrontations between the army and the insurgency caused hundreds of cases of displacement.The victims are Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples from the rural areas of El Partidel, La Pampa and Juanico.
The ombudsman of the municipality said his municipality is facing a “humanitarian crisis,” as the number of displaced people doubled from last week when hundreds of residents were displaced.
The town of Guapi is now home to 669 displaced people from the surrounding rural areas. Some victims moved in with their relatives and friends in Guapi but the majority are placed in the House of Culture of the town. The ombudsman of the department, Mauricio Redondo, told Colombia Reports that housing is the biggest problem they are currently facing.
“The only place the municipality can provide as shelter is the House of Culture but it is not enough for all those people” Redondo told CR adding that ” We already have a problem of overcrowding in the shelter and this can lead to health problems [..] and there are 199 children currently living in those conditions.”
The ombudsman of Cauca asked the national and regional governance to urgently provide the victims with shelter. Overcrowding is a pre-existing problem and further displacement is predicted.
Several national and international organizations arrived in Guapi to assist the victims. Doctors without Borders charity are providing psycho- social support and the Unity of Victims are delivering food supplies.
Redondo told CR that they also made a call to the State’s Health Secretary to make a plan in order to avoid health problems such as diarrhea, fever, dehydration and others.
The victims will not be able to return to their homes as long as the combat is ongoing. “There is a lot of fear but what we need is help from the government so that we can live off the land and provide for our children,” one of the victims told Radio RCN.
- Desplazados en Guapi claman por regresar a sus viviendas (Radio RCN)
- Combates entre guerrilla y Ejército dejan 669 desplazados en el Cauca (Colprensa)
- Interview with Mauricio Redondo (Ombudsman of Cauca)