Mass Displacement in Meta Department

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Operations carried out by rightwing paramilitary groups and troops of the Colombian Army in the central Colombian department of Meta have forced hundreds of people to flee their homes in recent weeks. Around half of the victims are from remote indigenous tribes who have been forced to flee the jungle in the face of bombardment by the Colombian Air Force.

According to the local ombudsman in Meta, at least 196 civilians have fled a paramilitary death squad in the region of Puerto Alvira. The paramilitaries, who arrived in late February, allegedly spent some time travelling from an area known as El Siare via the El Silencio area and on to the town of Puerto Alvira. The unit made it known that they had a death list of people that they wished to hunt down and kill.

Another report from the region, which was released by the UN and other organisations last weekend, documents how 44 members of the remote Sikuani indigenous group, 60 from the Nukak Maku and 80 from the Guayaberos group, have all been forced to flee from their various homes in the jungle after intense army bombardment.

In 1997 Meta was the scene of one of Colombia's worst ever massacres when troops and paramilitaries carried out a joint operation in and around the town of Mapiripan. During a five day killing and torture spree nearly 50 civilians were murdered.

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