PRESS RELEASE CODHES : AFROCOLOMBIANS IN COLOMBIAN PACIFIC FACE A GRAVE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

desplazados_colombiaThe following is a press release about the ongoing political violence against the people who live in the Colombian Pacific coast. The text is issued by CODHES and is originally in Spanish. We encourage everyone to read it and spread the word. 

Translated by Marcos Restrepo

Bogotá D.C. 10 June 2015

The Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES) expresses its profound distress due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting the Colombian civilian population and especially the Afro Colombian and indigenous populations in the Colombian Pacific region. This region traditionally impacted by a dynamics of structural exclusion has been the most affected by the armed conflict over the last few years to the point that the CODHES Information System has registered more than 368 cases of forced displacement in the region over the last five years. In the 2012 report “The Humanitarian Crisis in Colombia Persists. The Pacific under siege,” CODHES warned about an increase in the armed conflict in the Pacific region, a situation that continues to get worse. This increase goes against the quest for peace and heightens the vulnerability of the people who live in this region. Recent attacks that have victimized local residents include the destruction of the power grid, indiscriminate attacks with explosive devices, bombings, thousands of forced displacements, selective killings, threats to the population, among other actions that are a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedom of Afro-Colombians and other residents of the region, specifically in the cities of Tumaco, Barbacoas, Magüi Payán (Nariño province), Guapi, López de Micay (Cauca province), Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca province ), and the Chocó province. CODHES calls on all parts involved in the armed conflict especially the national government and the FARC to immediately end all hostilities that affect the human rights of these communities and that are a violation of international humanitarian law. It is vital that all parts put an immediate end to all activities that infringe international norms that prohibit attacks against the lives and safety of civilians and that result in direct attacks against the civilian population. CODHES also calls on the international community and Colombian society to reject in the most adamant way this disproportionate and systematic violence against Afro-Colombians and all residents of the Colombian Pacific region. CODHES supports the peace dialogs in Havana, Cuba because a sustained and durable peace that recognizes and guarantees victim’s rights is a necessary step to put an end to this humanitarian crisis. CODHES also celebrates the announcement of a Truth Commission to move forward in the defense of the rights of all victims and Colombian society at large to know what happened as well as the creation of a system of transitional justice to bring those responsible to a court of law. The integral reparation of all victims is a fundamental component for a sustainable peace. Increased efforts to achieve a final agreement and an end to hostilities must be the main objective of all parts, as an integral peace should be a central objective of Colombian society. CODHES proposes the immediate creation of a humanitarian agreement to protect the civilian population of the Colombian Pacific region. And last CODHES recognizes the courage of the organizations and communities who confront and resist this humanitarian tragedy in Pacific region, and we express our solidarity with all the communities affected by this humanitarian crisis that is disproportionately impacting Afro-Colombians.

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