Armed Clashes Threatens Civilians in Humanitarian Zones


AGC Paramilitary Group

On February 18, four displaced families arrived at the Humanitarian Zone La Esperanza.

The displacement is due to several armed clashes between the AGC (Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), in conjunction with Colombian State forces and the ELN (National Liberation Army).


Although there are precautionary measures ordered by the IACHR to protect the life and integrity of the collective territories in Curbaradó and Jiguamiandó, there are has been no effective responses from the State to guarantee the protection of the communities and their leaders.


The situation has placed the communities in a de-facto state of siege, as illegal armed groups continue to make free mobility impossible.


On February 21, the inhabitants of the collective territories of Jiguaminadó reported having heard heavy gunfire and explosions due to more clashes between the ELN and AGC.


A kilometer away from Alto Guayabal on the property of Mr. Carlos Arias, there have been reports of AGC paramilitary presence, indicating that they plan to militarily occupy that area.


On February 22, people have reported witnessing an armed confrontation in the Ribera, Jiguamiandó River, located less than ten minutes from the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo.


According to the Inter-Church Comision of Justice and Peace (ICJP), another group of armed men would be near Puerto Lleras, where there have also been reports of armed confrontations between the two groups.


The ICJP also reports that since last week, paramilitary-type operations have been reactivated, after the National Liberation Army announced an armed shutdown, even Colombian military units that have been deployed in the region have reported that operations with the AGC are being supported by Colombian forces.


At this moment the children of the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo are sheltered along with their mothers and fathers inside the school.


A large part of the population is avoiding mobilization in the territory due to confrontations that endanger the lives of men, women and children.


The collective territories and their inhabitants are in a state of defenselessness before the intimidation and coercion of the armed actors who have repeatedly violated international humanitarian law. This situation generated an atmosphere of anxiety and fear amongst the civilian population.


There has so far been no response from the Colombian government or international organization to protect the integrity of the civilian population.

On February 22, confrontations between the ELN and the paramilitaries of the self-proclaimed Gaitanista Autodefensas de Colombia, AGC, at the point between Zapayal and the Jiguamiandó river, reignited.


The firefight happened only twenty minutes away from the Nueva Esperanza Humanitarian Zone, where, the population heard the shootings.


Later that day, the Colombian Army was in the area, they were seen heading to the place where the gunfire came from.


The population is totally frightened, a humanitarian verification mission is urgently needed with the presence of State institutions and international humanitarian NGOs.


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