EL CHARCO: DISPLACEMENT AND COMMUNITIES IN RISK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MILITARY CONFRONTATION
Afro Colombia, April 9th, 2007.
*Translated by FUNDEPAZ
The situation of displacement of thousands of people in the municipality of El Charco in the Nariño?s Pacific coast continues. According to the municipal human rights office, until last Saturday 1.324 families (8.900 people) had been registered as displaced people, 400 of them have begun to return to their hamlets, but others are being displaced as that the troops advance. In the part of Pulbuza, located in the middle area of the Tapaje River, are the communities of Pueblo Nuevo Tribuna, Perolindo, Guazarija, Bellavista, Maíz Blanco and California. In this area the strongest confrontations have taken place and there are dammed communities. It is calculated that near 720 people of the hamlet of Perolindo and Guazarija and residents of around 130 houses of the hamlets of Pueblo Nuevo Tribuna, California and Bellavista have not been able to leave, and potentially dramatic is that it is very little what is known about the final situation of them up now.
According to the information that circulates in the communities a paramilitary group of 150 men, that was advancing in the high region of Patía River, are already in the place known as El Salto, in the Catalina's proximities. The last Friday 6, the guerrilla sent a bomb canoe that exploded next to a boat piraña of Marina's Infantry, but there were not fatal victims.
Previously to the combats that took place in the area between the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia FARC and troops of Marina's Infantry, the area was fumigated in 6 opportunities between the months of February and March, what destroyed the crops and it caused that the population is more vulnerable to the humanitarian crisis that now they are facing. In the whole there are not food, medicine, fuel and recipients to store rain water, those that they had were contaminated with the fumigations. The aid given up now has been sufficient to assist to not more than 70% of those displaced people that are in the municipal head. While the rest of residents that remain in their communities with a high displacement risk, is suffering skin and breathing illnesses, diarrhea and vomits in higher levels to average. The medications only reach to assist those who are in the municipal head of the El Charco and to urgent cases.
The Municipal Authorities from El Charco have promoted the conformation of a Committee for the displaced population's attention, of which are part Government's Secretary, the Municipal Human Rights Office, the Church and in a provisional way 2 people in representation of displaced people.
On the other hand, in the high place of the river there is a very tense calm. The lack of storage is of 80%, what means that the existence of foods in these communities would be finishing in 7 days; although there was information that it was bigger. The challenge is the supply during these days to avoid the crisis. The fishes ponds of a project in which the young people of San José's community was participating, as well as the rural crops were poisoned by the fumigations. Traditionally all these communities have supplemented their alimentary diet with meat of hunted wild animals and other product like the banana, but due to confrontation climate they are afraid of leaving and to meet with armed people. The Women Afro-Colombian for Life Association -AMAV - with more membership in San José, Santa Catalina, Isupi, El Cuil and Las Mercedes communities, decided to send 66% of the humanitarian aid to the dammed communities of Pulbuza, in the middle area of the river.
The hamlets where the massive displacement have took place are : Morrito, Pulbuza La Vega, Pulbuza Pueblo Nuevo, Brazo Seco, Tribuna, Perolindo, Guazarija, Treviño, Vuelta Larga, Castigo, Bola, Bolita, Salto Magdalena, Magdalena, Boca de Taija, Chachajo, Guabillo, San Rafael, San Francisco, Chapilero, Taijita, Ojal. Monte Alto Arriba, Monte Alto Abajo, Brazo Seco, Magdalena, Alfonso López. The displaced people are located in several housings in the rural area and at homes of several neighborhoods of the municipal head too.
In the hamlets Castigo, Treviño, Magdalena, Pulbuza - La Vega, Pulbuza - I Pueblo Nuevo it is informed that there are walls and roofs of housings and shops affected. The school of Pulbuza ? La Vega was destroyed by the confrontations between Guerrilla and Infantry of Marina. Besides people reports that personal objects such as jewels, silver, radio and electric plants of the communities were stolen. In the whole rural area of the El Charco there are little refuge places, the schools, places in those that the population could take refuge, are insecure in the main. In middle of the confrontation the communities are exposed, as it shows what happened in hamlet Pueblo Nuevo, where the army arrived to the village at 4:00 in the afternoon ?we come to rescue them? they said. The guerrilla was to the front of the village and at 5:30 in the afternoon the confrontations began being the community in the middle of the battle.
In addition to humanitarian aid, organizations like the Community Council Higher of the Tapaje River, Organichar and Simana-El Charco, request the conformation of the Municipal Council for the Attention to Displaced Population and the presence of a Verification Commission, which is conformed by the control organisms and international institutions with activities in Colombia, and with participation of at least a spokesman in an security council which must be carried out at the end of next week.
The situation of the thousands of people, most of them afro-Colombians, is not easy: many of them in middle the military pressure that they lives have not been able to move, and most of those that moved, surely, they won't return until the confrontations finish. It is necessary to guarantee the appropriate attention of all the people and communities in situation of high risk and displacement, as well as the respect of the armed actors of the rights of the communities and this way to avoid a terrible tragedy as the one happened in Bojayá, such as a member of the Advisory Commission of Choco, told us.
Human Rights Team
Black Communities in Colombia Process - PCN
*Translated by FUNDEPAZ
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621