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Colombia: 1,100 people have fled

Briefing notes

Colombia: 1,100 people have fled

20 May 2005 Also available in:

Some 1,100 people, mostly Afro-Colombians, have fled seven communities along the Buey (pr. boo-eh) River in Colombia's north-western province of Chocó, fearing combat between various armed groups operating in the area and the Colombian Army. The internally displaced people (IDPs) are now in the provincial capital, Quibdó, where the municipal authorities have been providing emergency assistance. Given the urgency of the situation, UNHCR is launching an emergency campaign with the Registry Office early next week (Monday or Tuesday) to provide them with identity documents so that they can be entered into the government's IDP registry and receive further assistance.

The IDPs have told our staff in Quibdó that fear of clashes between irregular armed groups and the Colombian Army provoked the displacement of the entire population of the Afro-Colombian communities of San José de Buey, La Vuelta, Curuchí, San Antonio de Buey, Aurobuey, Chibugá and Mansa. Two indigenous communities still remain along the Buey River but it is feared that they may also join the exodus if the situation of insecurity in the area remains.

Staff from our field office in Quibdó are taking part in a mission with the authorities today (Friday 20 May) to verify reports that other groups of IDPs from the Buey River area are travelling along the Atrato River towards Quibdó.

UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations have repeatedly warned about the deepening crisis in the Chocó province and requested the Colombian authorities and the international community to intervene to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. Some 2 million people have been displaced because of armed conflict in Colombia. UNHCR is working with the Colombian government and other UN agencies to protect the right of IDPs and prevent further displacement.