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COLOMBIA
Citizens forced from their homes
2/24/2011
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More than 5 million Colombians have been displaced over the past 25 years.

Since 1986, 5.2 million Colombians, or 11.4 percent of the population, have been forced to move because they were threatened by internal violence, and 400,000 of them took refuge in other countries.

According to the nongovernmental Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement´s report on internal conflict and displacement in Colombia, published Feb. 15, 280,000 Colombians were displaced last year.

“Over the last 25 years, Colombia has had an average annual displacement of 208,000 people, said Jorge Rojas, the organization´s president. “In 2009 alone, there were 286,000 people who were reported displaced.”

Nearly one-third of the displaced last year came from areas where since 2007, the government has been implementing a plan to increase its territorial control to fight the leftist guerrillas, within the framework of the “Policy for the Consolidation of Democratic Security” a plan launched by former President Alvaro Uribe, who governed from 2002-2010.

In 21 of the 86 municipalities that are in the territorial consolidation plan, there are mining projects, and 14 of them are home to palm oil plantations for biofuels.

“In general, official data and nongovernmental figures both say that the areas where people are displaced from coincide with areas of military and police presence,” said the report. “These areas, in turn, are regions where paramilitary groups strengthen or arise and guerrillas remain active.”  The organization also said that foreign investment is pouring in to regions where the population has been displaced, mainly for extractive industry such as mining.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Colombia has the highest number of displaced persons in the world, followed by Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Nearly 12 percent of the Colombians living abroad are refugees, mainly in Ecuador, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica, the UN agency says. Most of them lack the refugee status in these countries.
—Latinamerica Press.


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