Colombia: ICRC assists over 1,600 displaced persons

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Bogotá (ICRC) - As armed conflict continues to rage in the departments of Antioquia and Cauca, more families are being forced to abandon their homes in search of safety.

In the past two weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has delivered 28 tonnes of food and other aid to over 1,600 displaced persons.

In Antioquia, 285 people living in the rural area of Punta de Ocaidó (Urrao municipality) have fled to the nearest village, which is two days' travel by mule from the main town. About 30 per cent of the displaced are indigenous people and the remainder are of African descent.

The armed clashes that drove these people from their homes as of 18 September have also deprived them of their only means of subsistence - mainly fishing, hunting and agriculture.

The ICRC was able to carry out this humanitarian operation thanks to the cooperation of Programa Aéreo de Salud de Antioquia (a Colombian airborne health service), which supplied a helicopter. The Colombian Red Cross also lent a hand.

In Timbiquí, Cauca, over 1,300 indigenous people who had fled their rural homes because of the fighting - including 285 women and 808 children - received assistance from the ICRC.

Over the past three months the ICRC has also provided aid to nearly 4,000 displaced persons and over 3,100 residents in the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Chocó and Nariño.

The ICRC will maintain its presence in the areas of the country affected by fighting in order to provide the displaced with effective and timely humanitarian assistance, in accordance with its mandate.

For further information, please contact:

Yves Heller, Bogotá, ICRC, tel: +57 1 313 86 30 or +57 311 491 07 89
Marçal Izard, Geneva, ICRC, tel: +41 22 730 2458 or +41 79 217 32 24