Violence in the western department of Chocó has led to the forced displacement of approximately 680 Afro-Colombians since January 5. In response, Colombian Ombudsman Jorge Armando Otálora has called for a full-fledged state response to illegal groups.
The situation erupted as a result of heightened fighting between criminal bands and paramilitary groups over a territorial dispute in southern Chocó. The Ratrojos and Urabeños are fighting over control drug trafficking routes at the mouth of the San Juan River.
Members of the semi-nomadic Wounaan tribe are the main victims of the unstable situation, and continue to search for safe haven and food.
In a separate communication, the Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas (Victims’ Attention and Comprehensive Reparation Unit) said that an estimated 7,200 refugees from Chocó have fled to the nearby department of Docordó.
Colombia is home to more than 3.7 million displaced people—among the top such figures in the world—as a result of the criminal gangs, leftist guerrillas, narcotrafficking and other armed actors affecting the country for half a century. Under Colombia’s August 2010 Victims and Land Restitution Bill, victims of forced displacement are eligible for reparations and land restitution.