Colombia tops UN list with most displaced persons

Report on World Refugee Day shows continued damage of Colombia’s long-running conflict

Colombia tops UN list with most displaced persons

World Bulletin / News Desk

Colombia has the most displaced persons in the world, ahead of Syria and Iraq, according to a new UN report released Monday.

With a displaced population of 6.9 million people, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Colombia holds the dubious distinction as a result of internal conflict that officially began in 1964.

“In Colombia very few IDPs return to their traditional lands and homes and in 2015 the Colombian government reported 113,700 new cases of displacement,” the UNHCR report said, referring to internally displaced persons.

With other adjustments to the internally displaced population made at year-end, the total number of in Colombia rose to 6.9 million at the end of 2015, compared to 6 million reported in 2014.

“One needs to study the figures carefully, because the figure of seven million is accumulative,” said Martin Gottwald, representative for the UNHCR in Colombia said Monday in an interview with the El Espectador newspaper. “While the figure for displaced in Syria is taken over the last five years. Also one has to take into account that from the seven million internally displaced in Colombia, some have left the country, others have died and other have found potential solutions to their situation. It’s possible the figure is much lower,” Gottwald added.

Since March 2016, more than 6,000 people have fled their homes to escape clashes between illegal groups fighting for territorial control in the western Choco department. The clashes, around the Baudo, Atrato and San Juan rivers, have also severely restricted the movements of an additional 7,000 people.

The clashes come as the government is in the final stages of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the principal guerrilla force in the country, and ongoing discussions continue in order to commence formal negotiations with a smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Peace talks launched in November 2012 aim to put an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict with the FARC, which has resulted in nearly 7 million internally displaced people and an estimated 400,000 Colombian refugees, living mainly in neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela.

In total, more than 65 million people were registered as forcibly displaced by the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million in the 12 previous months, according to the UNHCR.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Haziran 2016, 10:58