By Cristina Navarro, CARACOLRadio, June 24, 2023


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The communities affected by the confrontations between the ELN and the Clan del Golfo are requesting the permanent presence of government institutions.

Bogota, The humanitarian situation being experienced by the communities in Chocó is being catalogued as critical. Of the 89 situations of confinement registered in the country so far in 2023, 70 have been in Chocó. CARACOLRadio was present during a hearing by the Ombudsman’s Office, held in Quibdó, and according to the testimony gathered by community leaders, everybody knows what’s going on there, but the government has taken no direct action to help the communities.

“All of the communities in the southern part of our territory are either confined or displaced, because there is an internal conflict between the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and the ELN, and that has not allowed the people to have any mobility. When they can’t stand it anymore in their area, they have to move. The last thing we want is for the Armed Forces to arrive in our territory, because of the risk that that creates.”

The constant battles between the ELN and the Clan del Golfo mean that the people have to run for their lives, because their daily experience just means staying in the middle of the crossfire. The statistics show that, of the 59 massive forced displacements, 12 of them took place in Chocó. That affected 786 families, some 1,940 individuals. Displacement is always looming. There are accusations, there are kidnappings; we also have all kinds of extortion situations. You’re left thinking—What is the solution for our communities?

The City Clerk of Alto Baldó, Eriberto Andrade, insists that what’s going on in his area with 28,552 inhabitants, is being replicated every day in the whole Department of Chocó.

“The population is always in the middle of the armed conflict and in the middle of crossfire. At times, a lot of people have been killed in Alto Baldó. We also have the lurking threat of land mines.”

Because of the humanitarian crisis, the communities are requesting the permanent presence of government institutions. Also that the government make progress with the dialogs with the illegal armed groups, so that communities will be able to live with some tranquility, something they don’t have at all right now. They want the new generations not to have to suffer this kind of a situation.

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