Over 700 indigenous people from the municipality of Bagado in the province of Choco have been forced to abandon their homes since March due to repeated outbreaks of violence between the guerrilla group ELN and the Colombian armed forces, according to the United Nations.
The UNHCR went on to say in their report that the situation of this population is “very precarious and institutional attention [to the problem] has been minimal or nonexistent.”
Stephane Jaqueme, the UNHCR representative in Colombia, responded by saying that the root cause of the problem, the significant presence of the ELN and criminal gangs in Choco, must be addressed.
“The vicious cycles that generate recurring emergencies in certain parts of the country must be broken.” explained Jaqueme, referring to the lack of opportunity in poor areas that forces many to resort to criminal activity to make ends meet.
The UNHCR is currently attending to the individuals displaced by this conflict, but indicated that support from more institutions is necessary.
Choco is a remote and underdeveloped area of Colombia in which the poorest communities in the country are found. Criminal activity is rife and a large contributor to violence in the region.