Some 500 people have been caught in the crossfire between dissident FARC guerrillas and the military in southwest Colombia for a week, the United Nations said Monday.
According to the UN’s humanitarian organization OCHA, the locals have been stuck in a community building in Suarez, a rural municipality in the Cauca province, since Tuesday last week.
Congresswoman Juanita Gobertus called on the government on Saturday to facilitate corridors that would allow the civilians to either leave the area or receive humanitarian assistance.
According to OCHA, the fighting between the army and the dissident guerrillas continued on Monday, but municipal authorities have been able to deliver food supplies since then.
However, the OCHA said, the community building is far too small to provide shelter to 500 people. Furthermore, the people are unable to attend their crops, which is endangering the food security of the largely self-sustainable community.
More than 200 children from the region have been deprived from education since the fighting broke out and schools closed out of precaution.
The UN urged authorities to warn teachers and children of unexploded munition or landmines in the event schools open again.
According to weekly Semana, the fighting is between the National Army and the so-called Jaime Martinez mobile column, a guerrilla unit that is part of the dissident FARC organization led by “Gentil Duarte” and “Ivan Mordisco” from the southeast of the country.
The situation in the north of Cauca has been explosive for weeks; at least six native Colombian leaders have been assassinated in the course of this month.
Members of Congress traveled to the area last week to meet with the largely indigenous population in the region to improve their security, but neither the guerrillas nor the army seems to pay any mind.