The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) says that 64 of the country’s indigenous communities are facing extinction due to armed conflict., reports EFE.
A representative of the ONIC spoke at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is reviewing the plight of indigenous communities in Colombia.
ONIC Director Javier Sanchez said that at least 64 communities risked disappearing completely in the face of conflict and “structural discrimination” by the state.
Of the 64 villages, 32 have fewer than 500 inhabitants, 18 fewer than 200, and ten have populations of less than 100 people.
While the ongoing armed conflict in Colombia was the primary cause for the displacement of indigenous peoples, Sanchez also pointed to “neo-liberal development projects” as adversely affecting marginalized communities.
The ONIC director urged the government to implement safeguards to protect the rights of these at-risk communities, paying particular attention to women and children.
The government delegation attending the commission conceded that there was a problem, but was put down to “historical circumstances” and “global problems such as narcotics,” according to Director of Indigenous Affairs Efe Pedro Posada.
The commission underway in Washington D.C. will also address the human rights violations of Peruvian and Andean communities affected by mining.