EL TIEMPO, December 10, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The United Nations states that the number of victims this year is 198% more than in 2020.

The open wound of forced displacement in Colombia shows no signs of healing. On the contrary, it’s getting deeper in comparison with last year. In 2021, 64,860 people had to flee for their lives in the countryside. In 2021 that means a 198% increase in the number of people affected, compared to 2020.

This is one of the disturbing indications revealed by the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA in Spanish), just this December 10 as the world commemorates Human Rights Day.

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (DUDH in Spanish). This document proclaims the inalienable rights of every person as a human being, independent of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic position, birth, or any other condition.

OCHA states that more than 78% of the injured parties, 53,000 individuals, continue to be without power to return to their homes, which indicates the level of this humanitarian tragedy.

In the same manner, the report states that as of now, there have been registered at least 2,000 attacks by armed groups against the civilian population, and that these attacks have precipitated this situation, a 41% increase above last year.

According to OCHA, up to October 2021, there have been 136 massive displacements in this country.

The report states that only 18% of the people that have suffered massive displacement in 2021 have been able to return to their place of origin.

OCHA says that Chocó needs special attention, because it reports more than 65% of the victims of this problem in the whole country. The areas of Chocó Department where the highest level of the situation persists are: Bojayá, Alto, Medio, and Bajo Baudó.

According to OCHA, between January and October of this year, the Local Coordination Teams have received reports of 51,400 people forced to stay confined because of the presence and the activities of the illegal armed groups. Of that total, more than 38,400 are indigenous people, and 9,900 are Afro-Colombian.

Just a few days ago, EL TIEMPO published a report that details how five years after the signing of the Peace Agreement, it has not completely reached departments like Antioquia and Chocó.

The report recalls a phrase spoken by Fr. Francisco de Roux about that in 2018: “There is no peace in Colombia if there is no peace in Antioquia.”

The priest, who chairs the Truth Commission and is one of the people that have worked most closely with the victims in this country, used that phrase to emphasize the importance of that department—historically the one most battered by the war—for no repetition of the conflict, for investigation, and for reconciliation.

Remember that not just this department, but also its neighbor, Chocó and some areas of Córdoba (the land formerly ruled by the Northwest Bloc of the FARC), have had to face a wave of violence and armed confrontation the same or worse than before the signing of the Peace Agreement on November 24, 2016.

“After five years, there continues to be a scene of conflict, with a diversity of armed actors. Drug trafficking continues to be an economy of war that is financing these situations, and is taking income away from the most vulnerable territories in the rural areas, and also from urban areas: says researcher Carlos Andrés Zapata, who coordinates the Observatory for Human Rights and Peace at the Popular Institute for Skill-Building (IPC in Spanish).

The registers of the Risk Monitoring System of the JEP’s Investigation and Charging Unit (UIA in Spanish) show that between December of 2016 and November of 2021, Antioquia continued to be the territory most affected.

During that period, there were 41 massacres, 107 forced displacement events, 51 cases of environmental destruction, and 315 death threats. Antioquia, regrettably, occupies first place in all of those events. And in the murders of former FARC combatants, (35 cases) and social leaders (128), Antioquia is also in the red zone.

“The Peace Agreements were made, but the killings and collective threats continue. Guarantees by the government do not exist; murders of leaders continue, the re-establishment of victims’ rights is very low, and we have seen almost nothing of the PDET and integrated rural reform,” states Birleida Ballesteros Bermúdez, coordinator of the Victims’ Sessions in Apartadó, and human rights representative for the department.

Zapata, from IPC, says that the subregions most affected in the Post-Agreement period are Bajo Cauca, North and Northeast, and in the latter two, with participation of the 4th, 18th, and 36th Fronts of the FARC dissidents, who have reorganized. In that area, the struggle to win territory has been, most of all, with the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, also known as the “Clan del Golfo”.

“But there is also a worrisome urban conflict dynamic, especially in Valle de Aburrá, associated with drug trafficking, and that seriously affects the east and southeast parts of Antioquia. In the west, in municipalities like Frontino, Dabeiba, Urrao, and Murindó are exceptional in that the scenes of confrontation are taking place in ethnic territories, above all in the reservations of indigenous communities and in Afro-Colombian community councils,” the researcher explained.

This complicated reality ends up affecting the poorest communities; they have to flee for their lives.

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