Colombia continues to endure a serious
displacement crisis despite some recent progress, a senior United
Nations official said Friday. New paramilitary groups, a reorganized
mafia and the battle between the armed forces and the FARC are continuously forcing a high rate of people to leave their lands.
“The continuously high rate of new cases of
forced displacement in certain parts of the country like the Pacific
coast, is especially worrying, the Secretary General’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Walter Kälin said after ending a week-long visit to Colombia.
“I am particularly worried about the serious
human rights violations against displaced persons’ leaders and the lack of adequate
protection of their physical safety,” he said, calling on the
Government to increase its efforts to end impunity for the crime of
forced displacement and to hold those responsible accountable.
Kalin praised the role of Colombia’s Constitutional Court in “shaping the national response to forced displacement.” The Constitutional Court forced the Government to acknowlegde Colombian displacement as a humanitarian crisis and to develop programs to help the displaced. It also created an independent agency to monitor the developments in displacement and the government’s response.
The UN official urged the Colombian Government to strengthen its sophisticated early warning
system by allocating the necessary resources, stressing the importance
of including prevention measures in military operations.
On protection, he acknowledged the efforts
undertaken by the State and international community to protect the
human rights of displaced persons and to provide them with humanitarian aid,
underlining that all human rights, including the right to reparation,
must be respected for all victims regardless of the cause or agent of
While Kälin visited some successful
projects in Barranquilla on the Atlantic coast, most displaced people are not yet
able to benefit from initiatives to rebuild their lives by providing adequate housing and help in setting up a new source of income.