The Colombia delegation head of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday accused the Colombian government of disguising military action as humanitarian aid, exposing recipients to retaliation from armed groups
“What worries us is that here in Colombia and other countries there is a tendency to want to disguise military and political action as humanitarian action … and that has had consequences for the civilian population,” said ICRC Colombia delegation head, Christophe Beney, whose comments came in reference to an ICRC report released Thursday.
“The consequences of such actions can be dangerous when military actions tend to want to win the hearts and minds of people who in good faith come to care without realizing that this can have consequences,“ he added.
Beney said that after receiving such disguised humanitarian assistance civilians may feel cheated, and be exposed to retaliation from armed groups.
In its 2009 report, The ICRC said that humanitarian work should be left to aid organizations as government or military assistance in this area can “distort the principals of neutrality … and put civilians at risk.”
During 2009, the ICRC documented 800 cases of alleged violations of international humanitarian law, a fall of half from the 1,600 documented in 2008.
Among the most widely practiced violations are enforced disappearances, killings, sexual violence, the recruitment of minors into armed groups, and prison overcrowding.
The ICRC has been working in Colombia since 1969, ensuring the protection of people affected by armed conflict under international humanitarian law, as well as providing emergency assistance to displaced people.