Colombia – The people behind armed conflict Part V: Patterns of Displacement

Hi all! Last week looked at the challenges of life as an IDP. Although the conflict has affected nearly all parts of Colombia, some areas are more vulnerable to the violence. Part V will look at how the internal displacement plays out around the country. 


Incidents of forced displacement in Colombia have varied, but were particularly high during the last years of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, when the drug industry was still considerably influential and the paramilitaries had not yet demobilised. According to CODHES, between 1985 and 2012, more than 5.7 million people lived internally displaced in Colombia. 2002 was the year with the highest number of new IDPs when 412,553 people were displaced.[59] Due to the demobilisation of paramilitaries, the shrinking drug business and the weakening position of the guerrillas, the numbers of new IDPs have been less every year since. In 2013, CODHES registered at least 219,405 new IDPs.[60]

In 2012, internal displacement in Colombia affected 75% of the 1,119 municipalities in the country, whether it was as a result of leaving or arriving at a destination.[61] When people are forced to flee their homes, they tend to escape to the closest urban area because of geographical proximity, cultural similarities or because they know the place or people that live there. However, because the urban areas that they flee to are nearby the initial threat they usually continue on to larger towns or city, as threats persist. Cities and large towns are desirable locations as they offer better opportunities for jobs, higher income and improved education. Moreover, bigger urban areas have a better institutional capacity for receiving IDPs and a greater availability of social services because the state’s presence is far higher than in rural small towns and villages.[62] Unfortunately, most IDPs end up in the marginalised areas of the city where help is harder to find.

Despite involving nearly all parts of Colombia, the forced displacement in recent years has accumulated in the Pacific departments of the country. In 2012, Pacific municipalities received 36.1% of the total number of IDPs that year divided between four of the 32 departments in Colombia, specifically Cauca (35,409), Nariño (26,610), Valle del Cauca (21,858) and Chocó (8,719). 84.9% of the Pacific municipalities received forced displacement victims; most of them relocated to big or medium sized cities, in particular, Cali, Pasto, Suárez, Buenaventura and Morales. With exception of Morales, the cities mentioned above were four of the six cities that received the most IDPs nationwide in 2012.[63] According to CODHES, 91,293 of the 229,402 IDPs that year came from the five departments Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Nariño, Chocó and Putumayo. However, the department that was by large the most affected was Antioquia with 78,069 internally displaced people.[64] In 2013, the four cities that received the largest number of IDPs were: Bogotá (25,506), Buenaventura (19,792), Medellín (13,664) and San Andres de Tumaco (10,286). The three latter cities made up 19.9% of the forced displacement in 2013, showing the vulnerable position of the Pacific departments. However, these results do not take into account the number of IDPs compared to size of population, of which only Buenaventura and Tumaco are amongst the twenty municipalities that received the most IDPs compared to inhabitants.

The average rate was 466.31 IDPs per 100,000 inhabitants in municipalities that have received victims of displacement. 236 of these 845 municipalities had an IDP population above the average. Ricaurte, Sipí, Suárez, El Litoral del San Juan and Támara were the five municipalities that had more than 10,000 IDPs per 100,000 inhabitants. All except Támara are located within Pacific departments. These results are important to consider, as the affect of an IDP population on an area will be greater depending on the size of the municipality. The economy, institutional capacity, and social capital within a region is highly affected by the division of the original population the arrival of IDPs.[65]

 

Mass Displacement and Intra-urban displacement 

Between 1985 and 2012, 86% of all forced displacement was individual, whilst the remaining 14% covered mass displacement. The five departments that have had the highest number of people fleeing in groups are Chocó, Caldas, Nariño, Antioquia, Cauca and Valle del Cauca.[66] Throughout the years of the armed conflict individual displacement has been the predominant type, but mass displacement has increased in recent years and represented 11.4% of all IDPs in 2011 and 18.9% in 2012. Of the 166 cases of mass displacement in 2012, 88% took place within the same municipality and 14% were intra-urban. In 2011, Cauca and Nariño were the departments most affected by mass displacement.[67] Between 2010 and 2014, 350 incidents of mass displacement have been registered, affecting at least 70,000 people.[68] According to OCHA, 73% of the mass displacements that occurred in 2013 were made up of indigenous or afro-Colombian people.[69]

In recent years the urbanisation of the conflict has increased the intra-urban displacement. The confrontations between armed groups are increasing in cities due to their relations with illegal businesses and the fight for social, economic and territorial control amongst the BACRIMs. BACRIMs have been the armed groups responsible for the majority of forced displacement over recent years and are favouring strongholds in urban areas, which explain the rise of this type of displacement. In 2012, SISDHES identified 24 cases of intra-urban displacement mass displacement, of which the BACRIMs were responsible for 22 of them. The FARC and official army groups caused the remaining two incidents. 23 of the cases were mass displacement and 20 of them happened in Medellín and Buenaventura, which were the cities with the highest number of intra-urban displacement, respectively 9,941people in Medellín and 6,207 in Buenaventura.[70]


Next week will be the last part of this paper. Figures, numbers and theories can all feel very abstract when talking about situations that are abnormal and at times, unimaginable. That is why next week is a case study from one of the most brutal moments in Colombia’s armed conflict, a testimony to the most extreme impact it has had on civilians. Although a few thousand or even a few hundred people seem like such a small number compared to millions of victims, they are all individuals, human beings who have had their life torn apart by a war they did not want.

[59] CODHES, Numero de personas desplazadas a nivl nacional y año de llegada, Informe desplazamiento http://www.codhes.org/index.php?option=com_si&type=1 Accessed: 1 March 2016.

[60] CODHES, El Desplazamiento Forzado y la Imperiosa Necesidad de la Paz, Informe Desplazamiento, Bogotá 2013 (p. 3) <http://www.acnur.org/t3/uploads/media/2881_COI_Colombia_Informe_CODHES_2013.pdf?view=1> Downloaded: 4 March 2016

[61] iDMC, Colombia: Displacement Continues Despite Hopes for Peace, 16 January 2014 <http://www.internal-displacement.org/assets/library/Americas/Colombia/pdf/201401-am-colombia-overview-en.pdf> Downloaded: 26 February 2016.

[62] Angela Consuelo Carrillo, ‘Internal Displacement in Colombia: Humanitarian, Economic and Social Consequences in Urban Settings and the Current Challenges’, International Review of the Red Cross, 91.875 (2009), 527-546.

[63] CODHES, La Crisis humanitaria en Colombia persiste. El Pacífico en disputa, Informe de desplazamiento forzado en 2012, Bogotá 2013.

[64] CODHES, Numero de personas desplazadas a nivl nacional y año de llegada, Informe desplazamiento.

[65] CODHES, El Desplazamiento Forzado y la Imperiosa Necesidad de la Paz, Informe Desplazamiento, Bogotá 2013 (pp. 12-14).

[66] Unidad para la atención y reparación Integral a las victimias, Informe nacional de desplazamiento forzado en Colombia 1985 a 2012, (2013), p. 15.

[67] CODHES, La Crisis humanitaria en Colombia persiste. El Pacífico en disputa, Informe de desplazamiento forzado en 2012, Bogotá 2013.

[68] Ingrid Paola Hurtad and Helmer Quiñones, El Pacífico en disputa continúa: En nuevo escenario, en la misma guerra, CODHES Informa, Bogotá, 84, (June 2015), (p. 2).

[69] iDMC, Colombia: Displacement Continues Despite Hopes for Peace, 16 January 2014 <http://www.internal-displacement.org/assets/library/Americas/Colombia/pdf/201401-am-colombia-overview-en.pdf> Downloaded: 26 February 2016.

[70] CODHES, La Crisis humanitaria en Colombia persiste. El Pacífico en disputa, Informe de desplazamiento forzado en 2012, Bogotá 2013, (p. 37)

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