The Red Cross recorded an increase in humanitarian problems in Colombia in its 2011 annual report, despite optimism sparked by the recent FARC hostage release.
The NGO said in a press release that forced displacement, threats, sexual violence, and medical and civilian damage were on the up in some parts of the country.
“We are concerned about the deteriorating situation in some areas, in many cases for the intensification of fighting and military operations, and specifically the lack of access to basic services like those of health, education, water and transport in remote communities,” said Jordi Raich, head of the Red Cross delegation in Colombia.
Raich added, “We are concerned with how many people in this other Colombia increasingly fall into oblivion.”
For 2011, the Red Cross documented over 760 alleged violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties involved in Colombia’s conflict.
The humanitarian agency said more than 150,000 people benefited directly from the work it was doing in areas such as emergency assistance for displaced people, support for the construction of infrastructure, access to health services, funeral expense payments, transfers of threatened persons, visits to detainees and facilitating the release of people held by armed groups.
The Red Cross has facilitated the release of 1,474 people held by Colombia’s illegal armed groups over the past 18 years, including the ten soldiers and policemen recently liberated by the FARC, reported newspaper El Espectador.
Of the 1,474, “570 were civilians,” said Raich.
Raich added that he thought the FARC hostage release and promise by the guerrilla group to stop kidnapping for extortion purposes had led to some renewed optimism in the country.
“I think that the atmosphere among Colombians is that there is a sort of hope (…) that these are times of change,” he said.