Armed groups in poorer parts of Medellin are killing and displacing thousands, said civil society groups Tuesday.
City authorities recorded 1,026 homicides and 8387 instances of forced displacement in January to October of this year, it was announced by local NGOs, who described the situation as a “grave humanitarian crisis”.
In the most violence-affliced area of the city, the western Comuna 13, community leaders say that the militarization of the area, while reducing homicides, has not ended the violent wars between armed groups that account for most of the violence, reports the Instituto Popular de Capacition.
“Ten years ago we were living a horror and now we are living in terror because there has been no change. This is made more acute because there is no hope,” the NGO recorded one community leader as saying.
The IPC’s report on Comuna 13 named some of the groups local people consider responsible for the violence, including “Los Urabeños,” “Los Pesebreros” and the “Oficina de Envigado,” but also said that “abuses of authority, police procedural irregularities, and the collusion of public security forces with illegal armed actors” leave the citizens too scared to formally report what is happening.
In Comuna 8, another poor area in the east the city, 72 people were killed and 334 households were forcibly displaced in 2012 by armed groups or “indiscriminate” police operations, reported the Observatorio de Securidad Humana de Medellin. The report said that locals believe the security forces may be involved in some executions and accused the local police department’s Special Operations Group (GOES) of being responsible for human rights violations.
The report also claimed there were 440 cases of forced recruitment of children and adolescents into armed gangs in Comune 8 in 2012 and instances of rape and sex trafficking that the presence of security forces does nothing to address.
Human rights groups in Medellin were launching a series on human rights issues around the city in response to the lack of information available from the city authorities. They say that the Ombudsman’s office of Medellin, responsible for monitoring the human rights situation in the city, is no longer fulfilling its responsibility.