200 displaced amid combat between illegal armed groups in southwest Colombia

June 12, 2017

June, 6 2017 (Colombia reports)

Combat between the ELN and an unidentified rival illegal armed group forced more than 200 to flee their communities located in southwest Colombia, Blu Radio reported Tuesday.

According to the radio station, 206 inhabitants of four hamlets arrived in the coastal village after combat between Colombia’s last-standing guerrilla group and an unidentified rival.

According to the radio station, the displaced had to leave behind four elderly neighbors whose health impeded them from fleeing their hamlets.

Most of the displaced were taken in by friends or family, and other locals.

Humanitarian and human rights authorities have traveled to Santa Barbara de Iscuende to attend the displaced population.

Nariño is home to multiple armed groups including FARC dissident who have united under the name of Gente del Orden after what used to be the country’s largest guerrilla group began abandoning territory under control in September last year.

Since the demobilization of the FARC, which used to maintain order while “taxing” both locals and drug traffickers, a power vacuum occurred in the coca-rich area.

Additionally, the ELN on several occasions this year clashed in the more northern Choco province with the paramilitary Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), who seem to have been carrying out a southward territorial offensive from their home turf in northwest Colombia.

The Nariño province is one of two ELN strongholds on the Pacific coast and has long been either abandoned or neglected by the state, allowing illegal armed groups to assume control of the region bordering Ecuador.

The Colombian government is currently engaged in a peace process with the FARC. This process, however, has been marred by delays and has been met with fierce opposition from Colombia’s hard-right former President Alvaro Uribe.