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Excerpt: "The United Nations says people are fleeing clashes between armed groups that are 'fighting for the territorial control of illicit economies.'"

A paramilitary group in Colombia. (photo: InSight Crime)
A paramilitary group in Colombia. (photo: InSight Crime)


Colombia: Clashes Between Paramilitaries Displace 122 Families

By teleSUR

12 September 18


The United Nations says people are fleeing clashes between armed groups that are “fighting for the territorial control of illicit economies.”

lashes between armed forces for territorial control; growing violence against civilians, and the murder of social leaders have displaced 381 people – a total of 122 families – in Antioquia, northern Colombia, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported Monday.

The displacements began September 7 as families in 11 rural areas of Taraza municipality moved to urban centers looking for shelter. The OCHA said they were running away from possible clashes between armed groups that are “fighting for the territorial control of illicit economies.”

Some of the families are taking shelter in the homes of family and friends, but others are staying at the coliseum of La Caucana, a town in Taraza where many of the refugees have arrived.

The OCHA said the local and department administrations are taking care of the refugees, but they need “personal hygiene items and assistance to adapt to the shelter” besides food.

The government secretary of Antioquia said some families have remained in their homes due to “threats from organized armed groups,” which have “restricted movement and access to goods, services and fundamental rights.”

“If the armed actions and attacks against civilians continue, it’s possible the number of displaced people will increase in the next few days,” the OCHA warned.

At least two local social leaders were murdered last week. Alfredo Alonso Ruiz Higuita, part of a program dedicated to the substitution of illicit crops, was shot dead Saturday in Aguas Lindas. Human rights organizations alleged he was most likely assassinated for refusing to pay bribes.

Campesinos and others living in rural areas of Antioquia are often the target of attacks by paramilitary groups, and many people are forced to abandon their homes out of fear of further attacks.

OCHA’s report exposes the growing danger that social leaders are facing in Colombia due to the presence of these armed groups.

“We can especially observe the increasing murders against community, Indigenous, African-descent and campesino leaders of several municipalities of Colombia, Taraza among them,” reads the report.

The army sent battalions into the area and the government of Antioquia announced that several officers and institutions will provide humanitarian aid.

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