More than 27,000 displaced in Colombia violence in 2021

Bogota (AFP) –

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More than 27,000 people were displaced during the first quarter of 2021 due to a surge of violence in lawless areas of Colombia, the human rights ombudsman said on Monday.

People have either fled or been chased from their land by threats, murders, forced recruitment by armed gangs, clashes between such gangs, and others pitting them against the armed forces.

It amounts to a 177 percent increase in displacements on the same period in 2020, the ombudsman said.

Colombia thought it had seen the back of more than a half century of armed conflict when in 2016 the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace deal with the government to disband and form a political party.

But violence has continued pitting dissident FARC members, other leftist guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN), drug-traffickers, right-wing paramilitaries and the armed forces in a multi-faceted conflict.

Between January 1 and March 31, there were 65 "massive displacement events" compared with just 35 in the same period the previous year, said the ombudsman.

In a statement, the United Nations deplored "the violence carried out against communities, people defending human rights, social and community leaders, as well as ex-combatants of the former FARC, a situation that has worsened in recent weeks."

The UN said seven ex-guerrillas were murdered in an eight-day period recently.

The leftist Comunes party, which was formed after the peace deal, claims that 271 former fighters that signed the accord have been killed.