Last Updated: Thursday, 02 October 2014, 10:43 GMT

Violent struggle over illegal mining in Colombia forces hundreds to flee, UN reports

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 17 March 2011
Cite as UN News Service, Violent struggle over illegal mining in Colombia forces hundreds to flee, UN reports, 17 March 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d82fbc38.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At least 800 ethnic Afro-Colombians have had to flee their homes in western Colombia since the start of the month because of a struggle between armed groups in the mineral-rich area to control illegal mining activities, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

The displaced villagers from the Anchicayá River region have sought shelter in Colombia's Pacific Ocean port city of Buenaventura, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release issued in Bogotá, the capital.

UNHCR staff will visit the area in the coming days with Government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to gather first-hand information and assess the situation.

The displacement follows an incident on 28 February when members of an illegal armed group stopped a public bus in the area and shot a male villager. A week later, two other bodies were seen floating in the Anchicayá River. The area is rich in mineral resources, including gold.

Some 370 children are among the hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have registered with authorities since arriving in Buenaventura, according to UNHCR.

The agency reported that a group of about 200 members of the Embera indigenous community in Colombia's Chocó department – which is to the north of Buenaventura – have had to flee their homes along the banks of the Pavasa River because of the activities of a separate illegal armed group.

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