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Colombia: UN concerned about people displaced by fighting in south-west

Colombia: UN concerned about people displaced by fighting in south-west

The United Nations refugee agency today expressed its deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Nariño region along Colombia's Pacific coast, where clashes between armed groups are forcing local residents to flee their homes.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) some 1,000 people living in this region near the country's border with Ecuador have taken flight during the past three months.

More than 40 percent of those forced to flee – residents of the Barbacoas and Magui-Payan municipalities and their surrounding areas mainly – have not received any humanitarian assistance to date, said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond today in Geneva.

He stressed the urgency of helping these largely indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the area, "who are living under vulnerable and extremely precarious conditions" exacerbated by an almost total lack of essential services such as health care, education and housing, making it one of the poorest regions in Colombia.

Last year heavy fighting between armed groups in the area forced more than 2,600 people to leave their homes. Of these, only about half have received some type of humanitarian aid and reports from the region indicate that the fighting has intensified during the first five months of this year, UNHCR says.