580 indigenous Colombians have fled their lands near the Ecuadorean border to escape fighting between rebel guerrilla group FARC and the Colombian military.
108 families, 77 of which were indigenous Awa people, were allegedly displaced from the remote jungle village of Chinguirito in the western Nariño department. Terra news reported that most of the internally displaced people sought refuge from the violence in the Pacific port city and municipality of Tumaco “whose furthest point is far more than seven hours” from their homes in Chinguirito.
According to W Radio, Francisco Javier Cortes, the secretary general of the Indigenous People’s Unit of Awa (Unipa), said in a phone interview that “the mass exodus resulted in a series of battles between soldiers and rebels that flared up on September 27.”
The Secretary General of Unipa went on to say that returning to their homes would be exceptionally dangerous due to unexploded landmines which tend to remain even after fighting has ended.
“The road is contaminated with landmines, which is a very complicated problem,” said Cortes.
Allegedly this is the third time this year alone that this particular indigenous community has had to flee their homes due to armed conflict in the area, with a number of families not returning to the community after each displacement, reported El Tiempo.
Internal displacement, particularly of Colombia’s indigenous population, has been an ongoing issue. More than 3.8 million Colombians are currently homeless after having been forcibly displaced by violence, according to the United Nations refugee center.