The U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has increased the figure of officially recognized internally displaced people in Colombia from 3.4 to 3.67 million, maintaining its undesired position as the first in the world, Caracol Radio reported Monday.
UNHCR explains that in 2010 there were 57 “massive displacements,” up from 42 the year before, while indigenous communities and Afro-Colombians continue to be the most prominently victimized by forced displacements, who tend to be concentrated in the areas that have witnessed intensified conflict in recent years such as the Pacific coastal regions.
The latest U.N. report claimed that ethnic groups have been further affected by the development of illegal mining as a source of finance for illegal armed groups in the country, while inter-city displacement continues to rise, particularly in the Antioquian capital of Medellin.
The U.N. agency noted concern for the situation of young people affected by the country’s ongoing armed conflict and the emergence of criminal organizations following the 2006 demobilization process that have largely continued the narco-trafficking work of the paramilitaries.
The figure of 3.6 million internally displaced people contrasts strikingly with that of Colombian non-governmental organization CODHES, which released a report earlier this year citing 5.2 million displaced Colombians, over 11% of the population, evidently using different criteria with which to classify what constitutes a “forcibly displaced” person.
The government’s figure by the close of 2010 rested closer to that of the U.N. with around 3.6 million people. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), however, indicates that “the rates of under-registration are substantially high.”
“The national-survey by the Civil Society Follow-up Commission showed that 65,7% of IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] are registered,” the IDMC explains, while the remaining 34.3% are not. The Colombian government puts the percentage of unregistered IDPs at 21%.
The IDMC notes that many people remain outside of the government’s official registry “as IDPs did not come forward out of fear or ignorance of procedures, and because many who requested it were denied registration.”