Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Colombia: New paramilitary groups cause mass displacement; government to recognise conflict

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 6 May 2011
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Colombia: New paramilitary groups cause mass displacement; government to recognise conflict, 6 May 2011, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
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.

Over 1,000 people were displaced in Cauca and Valle del Cauca States on the Pacific Coast following an attack and threats from armed groups which emerged after the paramilitary demobilisation in 2006. About 1,000 people reportedly fled when members of one of these groups arrived in a locality in Cauca, opening fire and injuring two people. Meanwhile, in Valle del Cauca, 250 people fled a rural settlement to escape threats from another group. The government agency Acción Social reported that the people displaced received assistance, but no further details were available. The access of humanitarian organisations in these areas is limited because they too have been repeatedly threatened.

The government announced that it was launching a military operation to combat these groups in Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and neighbouring Nariño. While the initiative refers to the groups as criminal bands, it represents a tacit acknowledgement that their strength and reach go beyond regular criminality.

President Santos also recently signalled that the government would at last recognise that an armed conflict exists in Colombia. The acknowledgment came in a Congress debate on a victim's law, and the addition of an article stating that the law will protect victims of "the country's internal armed conflict". This acknowledgment will be significant for those affected by armed violence, including IDPs, as it may contribute to enhancing their protection through standards contained in international humanitarian law.

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