World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Colombia: UN extremely concerned, refugee violence

Colombia: UN refugee agency ‘extremely concerned’ at new violence against civilians

Expressing new alarm at the impact of more than four decades of conflict on Colombia’s civilians, the United Nations refugee agency today voiced “extreme concern” at increasing violence over the past two weeks in the south of the Andean country, where 15 people have been killed, some of them in fighting between irregular armed groups.

“There are credible reports of several other deaths and disappearances,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. “UNHCR is also alarmed that new irregular armed groups appear to be forming in the area.”

By Saturday, 15 bodies had arrived in the town of Policarpa from nearby villages, five of them civilians killed in fighting between irregular armed groups on Friday. The other 10 had been murdered and although no one has claimed responsibility, the manner of their killing was consistent with murders committed by irregular armed groups, he said.

He added that the Agency, together with along with other UN agencies, the Colombian Ombudsman's office and the Norwegian Refugee Council, had also reluctantly agreed to accompany more than 2,200 displaced people who insisted on returning on Friday to the Policarpa of Nariño department.

UNHCR had strongly urged them to postpone their return because of threats from an irregular armed group that they would be killed if they returned home, but they insisted on going without delay, even if they had to go alone. However, they urgently requested that UNHCR and other international organizations accompany them to avoid retaliation by irregular armed groups.

“Faced with the difficult choice of having to accompany their return in potentially dangerous conditions or leaving more than 2,200 people completely without protection, UNHCR agreed to help, and on Friday a convoy of some 100 vehicles carrying more than 2,200 people went back to the Policarpa region,” Mr. Redmond said.

“UNHCR remains extremely concerned about the medium- and long-term protection of those who have returned to northern Nariño,” he added. “We will send missions this week to both (the villages of) Sanchez and Santa Rosa and hope to be able to put in place with other organizations a programme enabling a regular presence in the area. “Nevertheless, the presence of humanitarian staff will not in itself be enough to guarantee the security of thousands of people at risk in the region.”

UNHCR has also voiced mounting concern in recent months over the disproportionate impact on Colombia’s indigenous communities of the fighting between Government forces, leftist rebels and rightist paramilitaries that has displaced 2 million people overall. Forced displacement is especially hard on indigenous people, whose culture and traditions are closely linked to their ancestral lands.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news