The Medellin division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced it will intervene in several districts of the city where violence has taken a heavy toll on civilian life, reported Caracol Radio.
In the first intervention of its kind in Colombia, the ICRC clarified that the situation they will be addressing in Medellin, capital of Antioquia department, is not an internal conflict, but “organized violence”.
The head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Medellin, Pascal Porchet, said that in the coming weeks they will begin work focused on the prevention of criminal violence, school violence, protecting victims, medical care, as well as dialogue with criminal gangs in the different communities.
“We may seek protection dialogues with these groups to ask them to respect certain principles of humanity, such as leaving community members out of their fighting, respecting medical missions, health centers and not involving minors,” said Porchet.
The ICRC is particularly concerned about the rise of homicide rates in the neighborhoods of Comuna 13 and Comuna 6, and the high levels of violence involving children in Comunas 1, 3 and 8.
In addition, actions will be put in place to help youths at risk of being recruited by gangs and to aid communities affected by forced displacement in Medellin, as well as urban displacement caused by threats and crimes, a growing phenomenon in the city.
Friday’s announcement comes one day after the head of the ICRC in Colombia, Christophe Beney, stated that the organization’s major concern in the country at the moment is generated by criminal gangs, particularly neo-paramilitaries.