Amid the pressures of the pandemic and decades-old conflict, Colombia faced a resurgence of violence last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found in a published report. Wednesday.
In the 13-page report, the ICRC said the country is currently facing at least five continuing conflicts with armed groups that affect the daily lives of Colombians.
The group recorded an increase in cases of disappearances, murders and sexual assaults, as well as an increase in the number of people killed or injured by explosive devices in 2020. The group also noted an increase in the number of attacks against health workers and health facilities.
“In 2020, the consequences of the conflict have increased, especially compared to 2016,” Lorenzo Caraffi, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia, said on Wednesday during a presentation of the report in Bogota.
“There is a trend that shows an upsurge in conflict,” he said, “and unfortunately, it is the civilian population who are paying the price for this upsurge.”
According to the report, 389 people were killed by explosive devices in 2020, the highest since 2016. Most of the victims, according to the ICRC, were civilians.
The Colombian government signed a peace accord with the left-wing rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, aimed at ending a conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people and displaced millions.
But the violence gradually increased again.
Last month, the United Nations released its annual report on the human rights situation in Colombia and found that violence was “escalating”, especially in remote areas of the country, and killings of activists Human rights civilians were on the increase.
The ICRC report also noted that since 2016, “an alarming statistic” of 571 new cases of people missing due to the armed conflict – an average of one person missing every three days.
More than 120,000 people have disappeared in the country since the 1960s, and the ICRC, in addition to other groups, is working to locate people and bodies.
Caraffi called on civilians and armed groups to help government and international community efforts to locate missing people, who he said have been further hampered by coronavirus restrictions.
“We call on armed groups to support international humanitarian law and protect those who are not participating or have ceased to participate in hostilities,” he said.
The ICRC report also recorded 325 attacks on health workers, facilities and vehicles in remote areas in 2020 – the highest number on record in 24 years.
Like many countries, vaccination against the coronavirus in Colombia countryside is a slow start amid difficulties acquiring enough doses. But the Colombian countryside is even more complicated in the most remote areas where armed groups operate.
“We have offered the authorities support to effectively strengthen the possibility for people who wish to access the vaccine to be able to do so, especially in remote areas,” Caraffi said at a press conference.
“[We are] ensure [them] that in areas where armed groups operate, people who wish to be vaccinated can safely access vaccines, ”he said.
The pandemic has so far infected more than 2.3 million Colombians and killed nearly 62,000 people. So far, 2.4 million people in Colombia have been vaccinated, less than 1 percent of the population, according to a pointing by Our Data World.