Bogotá (ICRC) – Over 180,000 people affected by armed conflict and other forms of violence in Colombia received direct assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2010, according to a report on its activities released by the organization today in Bogotá.
“All victims of violence – without discrimination – must receive the assistance they need. We are concerned not only about the consequences in humanitarian terms of action taken by the parties to the conflict but also about the rise of new armed groups,” said Christophe Beney, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Colombia. “While the situation in some areas has improved, people in a number of departments continue to suffer daily from the effects of the fighting.”
In 2010 the ICRC documented 768 instances of alleged violations of international humanitarian law, including murders, threats, the disappearance of people, and seizure of civilian objects. It also documented 35 incidents of massive displacement and provided assistance for 38,000 displaced persons. It recorded cases of sexual violence, recruitment of minors, offences against medical teams and weapon contamination. People living in remote rural areas suffered from the absence of medical services and of basic infrastructure, and found it very difficult to make ends meet.
“We had to flee our village because our family was being decimated,” said José, one of the beneficiaries of ICRC aid in 2010. “One of my sons was killed 10 months ago while panning for gold in the river, and my eldest was killed a month ago, doing the same thing. Friends told us that if we stayed, we would all be killed.”
In addition to the 180,000 people who received direct assistance from the ICRC, another 700,000 benefited indirectly from the organization’s activities in 2010. These included people who were able to take advantage of ICRC-supported infrastructure projects and training in first aid given to community leaders.
In 2011 the ICRC will continue to provide protection and assistance for the inhabitants of remote rural areas to which it has broad access thanks to its reputation as a neutral, impartial and independent organization. Together with the Colombian Red Cross, the ICRC will also run humanitarian projects designed to mitigate the consequences of urban violence.