The number of people forced from their homes by violence increased massively in 2021, new findings by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have shown.
According to a report by the organisation, Colombia saw a 148 per cent rise in cases of mass forced displacement (involving a minimum of ten people) last year, as ongoing conflict in various regions drove 52,880 people to flee their homes. This was more than double the number of cases recorded by the ICRC in 2020. Up to 80,000 people were also displaced individually.
There was a 60 per cent rise in forced confinement, which affected more than 45,000 people in six regions, with the western department of Chocó accounting for 78 per cent of victims. Communities in Antioquia and Nariño were also affected.
The ICRC documented other alarming trends, including a rise in victims of explosive devices such as landmines, which rose from 392 in 2020 to 486 in 2021, resulting in 436 injuries and 50 deaths. This represented the highest figure in five years. There were also 168 cases of forced disappearance, taking the number of people forcibly disappeared to more than 700 since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement.
The principal cause of the escalating humanitarian crisis was the expansion of paramilitary-successor and other armed groups in the affected territories.