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News > Latin America

More Indigenous Children Die of Malnutrition in Colombia

  • Two children compete in a horse race during the 21st Festival of Wayuu Culture, La Guajira, Colombia, June 10, 2007.

    Two children compete in a horse race during the 21st Festival of Wayuu Culture, La Guajira, Colombia, June 10, 2007. | Photo: EFE

Published 28 March 2016

Since the beginning of 2016, a total of 16 children from the Wayuu community have died as a result of malnutrition.

Five children from the Indigenous Wayuu community in the Colombian department of La Guajira died from apparent malnutrition, a community leader reported Monday.

These five deaths come after an earlier 11 were reported since the beginning of the year, making for a total of 16. 

The humanitarian crisis in the department of La Guajira has caused outrage within Colombian society, with community leaders accusing the government of Juan Manuel Santos of abandoning the region of over two million people. 

15,000 at Risk from Hunger and Malnutrition in North Colombia

La Guajira is located in the extreme northeast of Colombia, near Venezuela. 

Javier Rojas Uriana, a spokesperson for the Wayuu community, said three of the recent deaths had been confirmed as being the result of malnutrition, with the other two still under investigation.

Abdul Dasuki, a pediatric doctor who works in the region, told teleSUR in February that hunger in the area has been a chronic problem for a number of years. 

"The doctors who treat children are tired of seeing so many dying from hunger; we are tired of seeing so many children in need and cry out for State protection. We want the rights of children in La Guajira and the entire country to be respected,” said Dasuki.

A report by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare said there were 898 cases of child malnutrition in La Guajira.

Indigenous Tribe in Colombia at Risk of Extinction

The problem became so severe that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered preventative measures be taken to resolve the issue.

In the last 10 years, a reported 4,770 Indigenous children have died from hunger in La Guajira.

In 2015, Colombia reported the deaths of 38 children as the result of diseases associated with malnutrition.

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