More than 72,000 people were victims of forced displacement in Colombia between January and November 2021

A total of 72,300 people were victims of forced displacement in Colombia between January and November 2021, reports the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its most recent report “Impact and humanitarian trends.”

According to the study, the displacements occurred in the framework of 159 massive emergencies. The figure represents a 62% increase in the number of events and a 196% increase in the number of displaced people, compared to the same period in 2020, when 24,469 victims were reported, which when including December of that year totaled 26,291.

The OCHA report indicates that of the total number of people affected by displacement, at least 39,400 (54%) are Afro-descendants, 12,848 (18%) are boys and girls, 11,113 (15%) are indigenous and 5,200 (7%) are indigenous. women.

According to him report, the causes of massive displacements are mainly (33%) linked to situations of threat from Non-State Armed Groups (GANE), who resort to pamphlets, calls and other methods to frighten the population.

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Additionally, the confrontations between the GANE generate 24% of the displacements, while another 9% are due to their harassment. The situation becomes more critical because of the total of those affected, only 26% (19,229 people) have been able to return to their places of origin, mostly without getting security guarantees.

That conjuncture has made 53,159 people remain displaced and with fundamental needs, such as lack of shelter, food security, health, water, sanitation, hygiene and protection. In November alone, at least 6,000 people were displaced in 19 humanitarian emergencies. Nariño was the most affected department, with 3,000 cases.

Another form of aggression: threats and forced confinement

According to OCHA records, in the 11 months analyzed in 2021, other 57,700 people were forced into confinement in the presence and armed actions of the GANE. To this data, in addition, must be added various restrictions on mobility and access to basic goods and services, imposed by irregular groups, which have affected another 57,500 people.

According to the report, 32% of the emergencies due to forced confinement were determined by direct threats from the GANE against the population, who seek impose “social control” in strategic areas for their illicit economic activities. Another 18% originated from armed clashes that left the civilian population in the midst of the crossfire.

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The placement and “contamination” of the territories with antipersonnel mines and unexploded ordnance also influences, especially in communities in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó. The populations most affected by these cases are the indigenous, with 45,100 (78% of the total reported); the Afro-descendant, with 10,400 victims (18%); children, with 1,373 (2%); and women, with 774 (1%).

Attacks and effects of armed violence

The OCHA details in its study that between January and November 2021 it received reports of more than 2,200 attacks against the civilian population, and that most of the affected places coincide with the municipalities with the highest occurrence of forced displacement. Furthermore, during the period analyzed, attacks against the population have increased 36% compared to 2020.

To this must be added that during those 11 months there were at least 99 incidents (43% more than in 2020) in which the population suffered restrictions on access to humanitarian aid, including direct attacks against missions and infrastructure dedicated to these purposes.

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The study notes that more than 239,000 people have been affected by events of armed violence, 17,400 have received direct threats and more than 1,600 have been the target of “violent homicides, among other victimizing acts.”

Violence in Colombia, the report states, has a higher incidence in the departments located in the Pacific region and in the border areas with Ecuador and Venezuela.

The list includes the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Chocó, Putumayo, Norte de Santander, Nariño, Caquetá and Meta, areas that also concentrate 75% of the homicides perpetrated against social leaders and human rights defenders. For their part, Norte de Santander, Sucre and Magdalena point to threats against the population.

Finally, and in comparison with 2020, the OCHA registered during those 11 months of 2021 an increase of 36% in armed actions of the GANE that —concludes the analysis— “have a direct humanitarian impact on the civilian population”, despite the fact that they do not always cause massive emergencies such as forced displacement and confinement.