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Fighting between Colombian troops and the ELN leaves about 4,000 people confined in Chocó

September 16, 2019

MADRID, Sep 16 (EUROPE PRESS) –

Some 4,000 people have been confined in thirteen communities in the Colombian department of Chocó (northwest), due to fighting between the Armed Forces and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In its latest balance, OCHA figures in at least 3,816 people confined in seven communities in the Middle San Juan and six in Istmina, due to “the different restrictions on access to goods, services and livelihoods, and mobility limitations of the affected population. ”

To this are added 307 people “mass displaced”, including at least 140 children and adolescents and four nursing women, who have had to leave the Noanamá community, in the Middle San Juan, heading to the municipal capital of Istmina where they have been housed by the Community Council.

The fighting began on August 26 and since then there have been at least three clashes, in addition to “other actions of armed violence such as threats, intimidation, restrictions on access and livelihoods in the civilian population and presence of antipersonnel mines and unexploded ordnance. ”

The OCHA has considered that, almost a month later, that “the protection and security needs of the civilian population persist, given the risks of the possible occurrence of new combats, accidents with antipersonnel mines and ammunition, possible recruitment (.. .) and social control “.

In addition, it has indicated that, “due to the increase in the population in a situation of confinement and displacement, a greater supply of food is required, since restrictions on the mobility of the confined populations to carry out their daily livelihood activities persist, as well as that the limitations of access to livelihoods and decent living conditions “.

“There are also evidenced needs in the field of education in emergencies such as the reactivation of school days and protective measures for both students and teachers, because at least 1,800 children and adolescents are restricted to access educational days,” he said. added.

The Ombudsman in Chocó, Luis Murillo, has confirmed to 'El Colombiano' the “high risk” in which these communities are underlining that not only the ELN is present, but also the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) and “there are information that a group of FARC dissidents (…) is going up. ”

For his part, the commander of the Seventh Army Division, General Juan Carlos Ramírez, has emphasized to the Colombian newspaper that the security forces act in Chocó to stop the armed groups and take the State to these remote areas. “It is not only to act militarily, but to recover tranquility,” he said.

Colombia suffers a wave of violence since the signing in 2016 of the peace agreement between the Government and the FARC due to the struggle between rival groups, among which the ELN and the FARC dissidents stand out, for seizing the old businesses of the extinct guerrillas, including drug trafficking.