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Colombia: worsening humanitarian situation

Briefing notes

Colombia: worsening humanitarian situation

23 August 2002

UNHCR is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Colombia and urges all sides to respect the rights of the civilian victims of the conflict. In recent weeks, forced displacement within Colombia has increased significantly as the conflict intensifies. Thousands of Colombians, the majority of whom are women and children, have become displaced in the last few weeks in a country where the total number of displaced people since 1995 has been estimated at over two million. Most of these people find themselves under extremely dire conditions in a situation of acute vulnerability, after being forced out of their homes by threats from illegal armed groups or by violent clashes between combatants. The border provinces of Nariño, Norte de Santander and Chocó have been particularly affected, as well as Antioquia, but reports of large numbers of people being uprooted by the fighting continue to be received from all over Colombia.

At the same time, security in the border areas of neighbouring countries has been adversely affected by the intensification of the internal conflict in Colombia. In the last weeks, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of violent incidents, including killings and abductions, attributed to illegal armed groups from Colombia in both Venezuela and Ecuador. In a recent incident in the northern province of Sucumbíos in Ecuador, a woman was shot dead near the house where UNHCR staff live.

UNHCR appeals to all sides to respect the principles of international law and the rights of the civilian victims of the conflict, as well as the security of the humanitarian personnel working on their behalf.