"Imagine the distress of facing constant threats from gunmen imprisoning you in your home or village, enduring this ordeal day after day, year after year. The constraints placed on civilians' freedom of movement clearly violate International Humanitarian Law, which all parties involved in the conflict in Colombia must respect," said Giovanni Rizzo, NRC's country director in Colombia.
"We urgently appeal to the Colombia government to continue to address the prolonged neglect suffered by numerous remote communities, who are unjustly deprived of fundamental rights such as accessing education, freely navigating their villages, and cultivating their crops. Additionally, we urge the international community to step up efforts to support the rising humanitarian needs in Colombia.”
Despite the peace agreement, at least 58,000 people living in remote areas remain confined by armed non-state actors and criminal groups. In some regions, conflict has escalated since FARC disarmed, as other non-state armed groups seized control over strategic areas, natural resources, and key drug smuggling routes.
The control over populations translates into dominance over territory and illicit economies. Non-state armed actors employ tactics such as threats, landmines, killings, sexual violence, armed violence, and curfews to restrict mobility in areas where the state's presence is lacking. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are some of the worst affected.
Felipe, an indigenous man from western Colombia, describes the precarious situation in the area where he lives: "Our community is surrounded by conflict. People are afraid, they don't go to the bush [to grow crops], they don't go hunting, they don't go to the river to fish. We stay in the house every day, without leaving the community. This is not the peace we expected."
While tens of thousands remain physically confined, an alarming 537,000 individuals find themselves unable to move freely within their area due to the armed conflict, experiencing restricted access to essential services such as food, water, healthcare, and education. This situation is exacerbated by the government's limited presence and insufficient humanitarian response in conflict-affected areas.
Notes to editors:
- Photos and video from Colombia are available for free use here.
- Colombia is the third most neglected crisis in the world (NRC).
- Colombia remains in the top 5 countries with the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world (IDMC-NRC).
- 5.8 million people live under the influence of non-state armed groups (UNOCHA).
- Colombia now hosts the third largest number of people in need of international protection (UNHCR).
- 58,000 people were confined in Colombia in September 2023 (UNOCHA).
- 537,000 people were affected by mobility restrictions and access to goods, services or rights in Colombia in September 2023 (UNOCHA).
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