Colombia

Humanitarian Crisis in Chocó Intensifies

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On 23 March 2020 the social organisations and communities in Chocó brought out a public statement about the deterioration that in the humanitarian situation and the increase in the violations of human rights and terrorising acts in Chocó , so far in the month of March.

Confinement and death in Alto Baudó (Chocó)

23 March 2020 Alto Baudó. The ethnic-territorial organisations and dioceses with jurisdiction in the department of the Chocó, together continue to denounce the intensification of the humanitarian crisis and of multiple violent acts committed against the population in the municipality of Alto Baudó.

Facts:

The situation in the municipality of Alto Baudó has been marked over the last three decades by state abandonment and the presence of various armed groups. Together these factors have gravely affected the inhabitants, since as well as lacking access to basic human rights, they have suffered the onslaught of armed actors, who as a result of continual territorial disputes have provoked anxiety, the weakening of territorial autonomy, and despair.

Despite the constant denunciations, made throughout these years, instead of achieving a decrease in the crisis and non-repetition of actions violating the collective rights of afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, during March of this year, there has been an exacerbation of these situations with actions such as: brutal targeted killings generating terror amongst the population; a massacre where seven people were assassinated, including a pregnant woman; forced displacement and confinement of communities; economic blockades; deaths and mutilations by landmines; systemic recruitment of minors; sexual violence against women; threats towards leaders and communities, and the intent by illegal armed groups to supplant ethnic authorities.

Undoubtedly, at the root of all these negative occurrences lie, on the one hand, the crisis of the social rule of law due to the inefficiency and corruption of some State Institutions, and on the other hand, the territorial disputes between armed groups for the control of the production and commercialisation of illicit crops. Of particular concern are the existing ties between some government authorities, some members of the Armed Forces, and illegal actors.

Due to all the above, we demand that:

  • The president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, immediately deals with the calls which have been repeatedly been made from the Chocoano territory to protect the lives and the ethnic rights of its inhabitants, and respond to the situation in the department and in particular to the crisis in Alto Baudó.
  • The Governor of Chocó, Ariel Palacios Calderón, to attend to the crisis through the judicial instruments provided by the Colombian Constitution, in the Municipality of Alto Baudó and in the different municipalities where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated.
  • The mayors of Alto, Medio and Bajo Baudó, consolidate a strategy that permits them to attend collectively to the situation in the subregion, revealing the actions that cause victimisation, and including in the development plans concrete actions for the reestablishment of rights. Furthermore, we call on them to work with transparency and continuity in their municipalities.
  • The judicial and control bodies carry out investigations in the face of institutional acts and the violent phenomena which affect the Chocó territory, and in particular the Baudó.
  • National and international organisations in defence of human rights continue to draw attention to the constant and systemic violence and ensure the fulfilment of the fundamental rights of these communities.
  • The Public Forces, fulfil its work of protecting the civilian population by breaking any link with illegal actors, respect the communal spaces of populated areas, without stigmatising and pressurising the communities.
  • To the Illegal armed groups violating international humanitarian law, to respect the autonomy of the ethnic territories, and not use them as a theatre of war for their purpose of planting and commercialising of illicit crops.

The great challenges which confront the country as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic affect Baudó and the large majority of the Chocoano territory with extreme gravity due to the pre-existing humanitarian crisis and the precarious medical and economic situation of the inhabitants of the department. WE DEMAND IMMEDIATE HUMANITARIAN ATTENTION WITH A DIFFERENTIATED ETHNIC, TERRITORIAL AND GENDERED APPROACH.

Signatory Organisations:

Diócesis de Istmina
Tadó – Diócesis de Quibdó
Diócesis de Apartadó
Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó (con sus 108 Organizaciones)
Mesa de Concertación y Diálogo de los Pueblos Indígenas del Chocó
ACABA: consejo comunitario general del Río Baudó y sus afluentes