Ongoing fighting between Colombia’s armed forces and the FARC in the southwest of the country is causing a “delicate humanitarian situation,” said a local ombudsman Saturday.
Since fighting escalated last week, more than 2,800 people have fled their homes in the southwestern department of Cauca.
According to Cauca Ombudsman Victor Melendez, the violence “has worsened” over the past few days. Melendez said that an unspecified number of civilians were caught in the crossfire.
The national ombudsman’s office on Friday warned that in the municipality of Jambalo where the FARC claimed to have shot down an armed forces airplane, the combat is threatening food supplies and the access to healthcare and education.
Additionally, the Red Cross has warned about the psychological damage to those living in the war zone.
“We are concerned about the psychological effect on the population and the great number of people who have nowhere to return to once the situation normalizes, as many lost their houses after the battles,” ICRC representative Benno Kocher said in a statement Friday.
Locals have been protesting the violence and have demanded both the army and the FARC to leave the area. The Colombian government rejected these demands saying the state “continues to fight terrorism.”
The Cauca department has traditionally been one of the most violent in Colombia because of its strategic location connecting the Colombian jungles in the south and southwest with the Pacific ocean, used by both guerrillas and drug-trafficking organizations to ship cocaine to Ecuador and Central America.