The Humanitarian Crisis in Arauca Deepening with Every Passing Day
(Translated by Rolf Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator)
Source: Consultatoria para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES)
June 26, 2009
The Association of Victims of Forced Displacement, Asovidesfor, has called for the creation of a special commission to investigate and verify the humanitarian crisis in the Department of Arauca as a result of the armed conflict.
Flor Maria Trujillo, president of the aforementioned organization informed Codhes that 'it was of great importance to have a human rights commission with international and national accompaniment in place that would make the social drama in Arauca visible to all, and call for appropriate measures that needed to be taken because the actual security situation was quite different from what the government claimed it to be.'
The social activist explained that the wave of assassinations has increased over the last years and that, as a result, forced displacement has also increased. According to a recent study, which was done by an international humanitarian organization in Arauca, there have been at least 3,000 confirmed homicides, of which 327 were committed in 2008.
According to Asovidesfor, victims have been primarily peasant organizers, social activists, indigenous and forcibly displaced individuals. Human rights organizations in the department of Arauca report that at least forty rural teachers have been killed in the last four years, twenty forcibly displaced persons were killed in 2008, and of at least 120,000 people have asked for international protection for reasons related to the internal armed conflict.
Through December of last year, Sisdhes (el Sistema de Información sobre Derechos Humanos y Desplazamiento - Information System on Human Rights and Forced Displacement) of Codhes registered 4007 cases of forced displacement in the municipality of Tame, which is considered to be the biggest source of displaced peoples in the department of Arauca. And yet, according to the research done here, at least 50% of this municipality's population has been impacted by forced displacement.
There have also been reports of recent cases of threats, forced disappearances, and the return of displaced communities without the necessary institutional accompaniment and without ensuring conditions of dignity, volition, and security that would guarantee the well-being of the affected people.
Many human rights organizations in Arauca have repeatedly expressed their concern for the situation of six indigenous groups that live in this department, which have not only experienced forced displacement as a result of armed confrontations, but also as a result of infrastructural mega-projects and oil exploration done by transnational corporations.
It is to be hoped that the Colombian government opts for a comprehensive solution to this humanitarian crisis in Arauca and not for a military one: 'It is necessary that appropriate measures by taken in Arauca, and we do not want to suggest that the forces of order should intervene to halt the humanitarian crisis. 'What we need is respect and a State that can respond effectively to this crisis.'
For a number of weeks humanitarian organizations have pointed out repeatedly that in this department FARC and ELN guerrillas carry on armed struggle over territory and that, in addition to the Colombian military, there is yet another armed group active in areas close to the Venezuelan border called FBL, short for Frente Bolivariano.
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