Covid-19 exacerbates conflicts and increase displacements in Colombia

Children walking through the streets of a slum Children walking through the streets of a slum UNICEF

11 December 2020

The violence perpetrated by armed groups in Colombia due to the pandemic forces the population to flee

In the past days, in the Bajo Cauca region, the levels of control over mining, coca fields and extortion areas by armed groups (Los Caparros and Clan del Golfo) are reaching dangerous levels. Indeed, the arrival of Covid-19 had stumped several businesses of the region, forcing militants to increase their revenues focusing on other streams to finance their activities. Massacres, the recruitment of children, the extortion of money and the lack of state presence had forced the local population to flee in rural areas.

Despite the peace agreement signed in 2016 between the colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), paramilitary groups remain active triggering a rise in the number of new displacements. Of particular concern are the mass killings which have almost doubled in 2020 compared to the previous year due to the pandemic. The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) is conducting an intermediary role with the armed groups although specifying its inability “to comment in detail […] due to our position of neutrality and confidentiality”.

In light of this, the Colombian government is responding exclusively through military intervention to protect civilians. According to the journalist Narvarez Sierra, who has been working on the ground for several years, “If [the government doesn’t] provide an integrated response that includes education for all classes of people, investment in infrastructure, and an alternative to the black-market economy, we will be at war forever.”

According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center,Colombia remains the country with the second-highest total number of internally displaced people due to conflict and violence, measured from 2003 to 2019, only after Syria.



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Author: Martina Ravagnani

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