Colombian conflict has displaced 6 million, study finds

World Today

Six million people in Colombia have been displaced by conflict. They’re hoping for a resolution to years of violent conflict between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. A new study has also found that 63 percent of Colombia’s displaced population is living in poverty. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported this story from Bogota, Colombia.

As peace talks continue in Havana between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, back at home, the effects of the war are still deep.

Colombian conflict has displaced 6 million, study finds

Six million people in Colombia have been displaced by conflict. They're hoping for a resolution to years of violent conflict between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. A new study has also found that 63 percent of Colombia's displaced population is living in poverty. CCTV America's Michelle Begue reported this story from Bogota, Colombia.

Americo Cabezon and his family has been displaced twice since 2004.

“Because of armed groups, I had to leave everything I had, my home, my farm, animals and leave everything abandoned,” Cabezon a resident of the Wounaan displaced community said.

The Cabezon family lives in Bolivar, Colombia. According to a 2010 government census report by Accion Social, the highest portion of displaced people in live in Bogota.

Paramilitaries, leftist guerrillas, and narco-traffickers threatened Cabezon, a governor of the Wounaan Indigenous community, off their more than 17 acres of land. With frigid temperatures and $500 per month rent in the city, this is a sharp contrast from their previous living conditions.

“You start to see discrimination. When we arrived if we are five people, they didn’t want to rent us a home, only for two to three people. But in our territory it wasn’t like that. You could bring 15-20 people could live with you until they could build their own home,” Cabezon said.

A new study by the government victim’s unit that monitors social conditions of the country’s victims found that six out of every 10 displaced people are living in poverty, suffering from severe food security. Officials say improvements have been made since the last census.

“The fact that it has gone down from nine to six people, means that there was a 30 percent reduction in general poverty and a reduction of 40 percent of those in extreme poverty,” Iris Marin Ortiz, Sub Director of Victims Unit said.

The study reported while three out of every five members of a displaced family can generate income, the money they receive is not enough to get out of poverty.

The Cabezon family has encountered many barriers in their attempts to find work, including language, because Spanish is their not their native tongue. In the meantime, the live off of sporadic sales of their artisanal crafts. While they follow Colombia’s attempts to reach a peace deal in Havana, they have little hope for peace back at home.

“Just as we indigenous people always say. Those who can write from their positions in congress, they speak of peace from a desk, but they don’t know how people are living in rural areas,” Cabezon said.

As drug trafficking continues to be an issue in rural areas, displaced people like the Cabezon family feel their homes are lost, and have their minds set on living in Bogota.


Sarnata Reynolds of Refugees Int’l discusses fate of displaced people

CCTV America's Elaine Reyes interviewed Sarnata Reynolds, senior advisor on human rights at Refugees International about the plight of the estimated 51 million displaced people around the world. This number includes both refugees and those who have been forced to flee their homes, but not necessarily their countries. Of the 51 million, 80 percent are women and children.