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  • Over 7.3 million people have been affected by the internal displacement, the Norwegian Refugee Council reports.

    Over 7.3 million people have been affected by the internal displacement, the Norwegian Refugee Council reports. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 May 2018

Indigenous leaders and teachers were threatened, women were raped, and 12 people were taken hostage by paramilitary groups.

Along Colombia's border with Panama, 656 Colombian Indigenous people have been forced from their homes by armed guerrilla groups, the United Nations reports.

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The United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) denounced the forced displacement of hundreds of native people in the department of Choco.

Last week marked the beginning of a new wave of violence along the border, targeting Puerto Embera in Pavasa Gello first. Indigenous leaders and teachers were threatened, women were raped and 12 people were taken hostage.

The caravan has now grown to include 223 from Puerto Embera, another 229 from Puerto Samaria, 103 from El Chorro, and 101 from El Piñal.

The communities are now relocating to the lands of their ancestors and seeking shelter with neighboring Indigenous groups, such as the Virudo and the Afro-descendant communities of Pavasa and Terron.

Since the signing of the Colombian Peace Treaty in November 2016, more than 150,000 people have been displaced. This translates to one person left homeless every four minutes, the Norwegian Refugee Council reports. Over 7.3 million people have so far been affected.

The Association of Indigenous Councils Embera Wounaan Kation Chamii and Tuie (Asorewa) is calling on the Colombian government, as well as international organizations, to address the human rights violations and conflicts in rural areas.

Asorewa leaders also denounced the shortage of basic necessities and demanded the state provide food, healthcare and shelter, as well as psychological and social care.


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