Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red Cross: Colombian victims “almost invisible”

Victims of Colombia’s armed conflict have become “almost invisible” to those in power according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC report on Colombia was released in Geneva on Monday and warned that the still bloody civil conflict in the country’s rural areas has become virtually ignored. "Many are being forced to flee because of threats to their lives. Other are subjected to extra-judicial killings or to sexual violence, and yet most of their tragedies go unreported," said the ICRC’s Christophe Beney. The report identified the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities as most in danger of the armed conflict and denounced the recruitment of minors as soldiers by illegal armed groups.

The ICRC also said that Colombia’s displace population, already one of the world’s biggest at over three million, continues to grow. A press release by the organization cited the plight of one such victim:

“We were in the house when we suddenly heard gunfire", explains María, who recently fled her home in the south of the country. "When we looked out into the courtyard, we saw my brother's body lying on the ground. They let us bury him, then they forced us to leave our village. Who knows what would have become of us if we had decided to stay.” When people like María are driven from their homes, they generally lose everything they have.
The Colombian government subsequently condemned the ICRC’s assessment and several officials defended the so-called "democratic security" policies of President Alvaro Uribe. “The FARC still have the capacity to do harm, but they do not have a greater capacity now than they had 8 years ago,” claimed government peace commissioner Frank Pearl. Armed forces head Freddy Padilla denied ICRC claims that the leftist FARC guerillas have undergone a recent resurgence and said that the rebels are down to only 8000 soldiers.

Image- Semana.com
Online Sources- International Committee of the Red Cross, Poder360, El Espectador, BBC News, EPA, Washington Post

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