Escalating political violence across many parts of Colombia saw the number of people forced from their homes more than double in the first six months of this year. Structural poverty, state abandonment and extreme weather conditions also contributed to the humanitarian crisis, with indigenous and African-Colombian populations disproportionately impacted. The alarming figures show a 193 per cent rise in forced displacement compared with the same period last year, according to newly-published findings by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
A total of 44,647 people left their homes in 97 separate cases of forced displacement as paramilitaries and other armed groups vied for territorial expansion in regions affected by drugs production, illegal resource extraction and other lucrative operations. While many communities were driven out, others were forcibly confined and could not access clean water, health or food. Humanitarian emergencies impacted regions such as Chocó, Putumayo and Risaralda, while last week at least 4,200 people fled their homes in rural zones around Ituango in Antioquia.
Since the signing of Colombia’s peace agreement in late 2016, much of the country has experienced a major human rights crisis generated by political violence and government failures to sufficiently implement the peace agreement. The UN Mission in Colombia has warned on multiple occasions that full implementation of the agreement is the most effective means of tackling the crisis. Since the agreement was signed, more than 1,200 social activists have been murdered, as well as 280 former FARC guerrillas in the peace process, according to the human rights organisation INDEPAZ.