Colombia should investigate the killing of 17 Awa indigenous people
last week that has raised risks of displacement, the U.N. refugee
agency said on Tuesday.
Ron Redmond, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), said initial reports indicated “an irregular armed group”
carried out the attack on civilians as retaliation for the arrival of
Colombian forces in the southwestern region.
“The rest of the
population is now extremely frightened amid increasing concerns over a
mass displacement of people in the days to come,” Redmond told a news
briefing in Geneva, where the UNHCR has its headquarters.
21,000-person Awa community have been caught in the cross-fire of crime
gangs battling Marxist guerrilla groups for cocaine-producing land in
Narino, which lies on a major route for traffickers shipping drugs to
the United States and Mexico.
Redmond said the Awa people “have
been subjected to severe rights violations, repeated murders and force
displacement”, with some seeking refuge in neighbouring Ecuador as a
He said such violence had pushed more than a third of Colombia’s 87 indigenous tribes to the brink of extinction. (Reuters)