PBI-Colombia accompanies Verification Mission to assess and report on the humanitarian crisis in Catatumbo

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On February 26, the Peace Brigade International-Colombia Project posted, “Last week PBI accompanied a Verification Mission to the Catatumbo region organised by the Programme for Prevention and Protection Routes for Human Rights Defenders in the Northeast.”

PBI-Colombia adds, “This programme is made up of the organisations ASCAMCAT, ACVC, CAHUCOPANA, AHERAMIGUA; IAP and is financed by the Catalonian Development and Cooperation Agency (ACCD).”

ASCAMCAT = Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo; ACVC = Peasant Farmer Association of the Cimitarra River Valley; CAHUCPANA = Humanitarian Action Corporation for the Coexistence and Peace of Northeast Antioquia; AHERAMIGUA = the Association of Agro-Ecological and Mining Fraternities of Guamoco; IAP = International Action for Peace.

This web-link provided by PBI-Colombia further explains that a verification mission took place on February 21 in order to develop an assessment of the threats and the humanitarian crisis now being faced by farming communities in the area.

The statement notes that according to the community:

1- There is a high presence of the public force, represented in the National Army in the territory.

2- Since September 2019, unidentified military personnel have made searches without a court order, intimidation, stigmatization and accusations of being collaborators of insurgent groups.

3- Registration: taking photographs of documents and photographs when they leave their homes.

4- Due to the humanitarian crisis in the territory, the economic blockade carried out by the insurgent groups and the National Army has generated consequences in: shortages, loss of the peasant economy, confinement and in general the limitation to the fundamental rights that are due guarantee within the Social State of Law.

Among the six demands from the community: “We demand the political will of the National Government in the continuity of the dialogue table with the ELN [National Liberation Army] and that the possibility of dialogues with other armed groups be contemplated.”

All six demands can be read here.

In terms of additional context, Spain’s News has reported, “Since the signing of the Colombian Government’s peace agreement with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and the demobilization of that former guerrilla, the spaces that their fronts occupied in the Catatumbo became the subject of a dispute between the ELN and the EPL [Popular Liberation Army] as a strategic step for traffic of cocaine to Venezuela.”

And Colombia Reports recently noted the “two-week crisis in the northeastern Catatumbo region, where the ELN and multiple armed rivals have been fighting for two weeks. In this region, an additional shutdown by the regional EPL guerrilla group has disallowed locals to work the land or buy food while children are unable to go to school.”

For PBI-Colombia articles on the Catatumbo region, please see this webpage.

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