The Red Cross on Wednesday said that the victims of criminal organizations were not receiving the same benefits as victims of the armed conflict.
At the launch of its 2012 activity report published on Wednesday, the representative for the Colombian delegation fo the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jordi Raich, expressed concerns regarding the persistence of serious humanitarian issues due to actions of criminal groups in Colombia, known as “bacrim”.
He praised work by authorities to grant reparations to “many victims under the existing legal and institutional framework,” but pointed out that “the considerable number of victims” of bacrim, who suffer the same consequences as those of the armed conflict, do not receive the same benefits.
The ICRC representative insisted that victims should be treated the same way, regardless of who commits crimes against them.
“We believe that victims of the armed conflict and of other situations of violence alike should receive support and reparation without discrimination, said Raich. “The suffering of people affected by displacement, murder and disappearance is the same, regardless of the underlying cause. That’s why it makes no sense to draw a distinction between the victims.”
While Raich expressed the ICRC’s support for the peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel group FARC, he said that the talks “have yet to bring about an improvement in people’s living conditions in conflict-stricken areas.”
According to the report, approximately 200,000 victims benefited from ICRC support last year through the distribution of emergency relief, medical check-ups, the repairing of damaged infrastructure, and the setting up of farming projects.”
Additionally, the organization recorded 880 alleged human rights breaches during 2012, including murders, disappearances, sexual violence and threats.
The ICRC stated that the armed conflict remained strong in Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca, Nariño, Norte de Santander and Putumayo, while cities like Medellín, Buenaventura and Tumaco felt the impact of “new organized armed groups.”