Forced displacement in Medellin has gone up 81% in the first six months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, said the city’s Ombudsman Monday.
Ombudsman Jairo Herran Vargas made the announcement presenting a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Medellin.
According to Herran Vargas, forced displacement in the city increases every day; declarations of forced displacement in Medellin have nearly doubled compared to the same period last year.
“The efficiency of security policy can not be measured solely by the decrease in homicides, it is necessary to take into account the 81% increase in the declarations of forced intra-urban displacement in the first half of 2011” said the Ombudsman.
The number of forced displaced people recorded in the period from January 1 to June 30 2011 was 16,919. The areas with the highest level of forced displacement were Comuna 13 with 1276 forced displacements or 30% of the total, the eastern Comuna 8 with 441 forced displacements or 10.4% of the total and Manrique with 342 forced displacements or 8% of the total.
31% of displaced persons living in community housing have no form of health cover and 73% have received no form of psychological assistance. As a result of forced displacement, domestic violence has been shown to increase in families that previously have no experience of this kind of intra-familial violence.
In the period 1 January to 30 June, the Ombudsman’s Office recorded 2,753 complaints of intra-familial violence, of which 2,262 were made by women. In the same period, the Ombudsman recorded 71 homicides of women, of which 69% of the murders (or 49) can be considered femicide, which is identified in the report as “when a women is murdered for the fact of being a woman.”
The first half of 2011 has seen 538 recorded cases of sexual assault against women, with most of these cases taking place in Comunas 1, 3, and 7. The most disturbing detail in regards to sexual violence against women is that in 88% of reported cases, the victim was under the age of 14.
Herran Vargas told Colombia Reports that “women become the victims of violence in a diffierent way than men. These are the consequences of a war.”
In contrast to the sharp increase in forced displacement, homicides in the city have gone down 11.4%, with 942 recorded homicides from January 1 to 30 June 2011, 121 less murders than in the same period in 2010. The ombudsman’s findings coincide with those of the Mayor’s Office who recently announced a 16% drop in homicides.
Although murders have gone down, the ombudsman warns that there has been a move towards “selective and sophisticated homicides,” which refers to the murder of bosses and members of illegal armed groups, politically motivated murders, executions and the dismemberment of bodies.
According to Herran Vargas “the river of Medellin has become a place to search for bodies; bodies that could provide the proof of the crime.”
The murder of 14 student leaders was cited as evidence of what the Ombudsman called a “serious and critical situation.”
The western Comuna 13 continues to be the most dangerous neighborhood in the city with 136 recorded homicides in the first half of 2011. Neighborhoods in the northeastern corner of the city such as Manrique and Santo Domingo have recorded a severe drop in homicides from previous years.
Despite notable improvements, Medellin has the highest murder rate of the country’s capital cities and continues to have one of the highest murder rates in Latin America.
The Ombudsman also warned of the risk of interference from illegal armed groups in the upcoming local elections. Ongoing territorial disputes and the increasing presence of various gangs on the periphery of the city was signalled as “one of the most serious threats to human rights and the security of the citizenry.”