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Paramilitaries Take Over Nueva Vida Humanitarian Zone

During the early morning hours on December 18th, residents of Cacarica witnessed the strengthening of the Gaitanista Self-defense Forces of Colombia's (AGC) paramilitary operations in the Nueva Vida Humanitarian Zone, according to a reports by the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace, a Colombian human rights organization working to defend victims of the Colombian armed conflict.

According to eye-witness testimonies, over the past few weeks, the two members of the AGC that have been permanently stationed inside the community for seven months, have been joined by two more paramilitary members. The four members of the AGC are dressed in civilian clothes, carrying handguns and communication radios.

The paramilitaries are preparing a house-to-house list identifying children and youth to give them gifts during the next few days. The community is silenced and fractured by this operation that is linked to forced recruitment of youth and children into the armed group.

According to the report by the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace, the paramilitaries have between 50 and 70 men dressed in camouflages and armed with military-style assault weapons in the hamlets of Barranquilla and Santa Lucía located a few minutes from the Nueva Vida Humanitarian Zone.

AGC presence in Colombia. Source: Fundacion Ideas para la Paz

Since November 2016 to date, numerous reports have been issued to the Colombian State denouncing the seriousness of the situation. The Colombian government has yet to put forth any effective measures that could provide security guarantees to the communities of Cacarica, which are currently under violent submission by paramilitary forces, despite heavy presence of the Colombian military.

The Colombian military has been unable to confront this illegal armed structure and protect the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association, free mobilization, and freedom from sexual violence affecting many women and young girls.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Francisco Barbosa, who visited one of the Humanitarian Zones in Cacarica, made a series of commitments that to this day have had zero results.

Despite the continuity and deepening of this humanitarian crisis known by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which developed precautionary measures to monitor the situation, no effective action by the Colombian State has been carried out.

The Colombian military claims to have territorial and social control over the region, but has yet to explain how an illegal armed group has managed to consolidate power in a collective territory of over 254,577 acres.


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