Clashes between armed groups in the northeastern Choco department in Colombia have forced over 1,500 Indigenous Colombians into confinement according to the United Nations.
“For a month, approximately, territorial disputes between armed group linked to organized crime and non-state armed groups… have caused the confinement of at least 1,548 people who belong to six Indigenous communities,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a public statement Friday.
The organization estimated that 331 families of the Embera ethnicity in the municipality of Nuqui remain isolated due to “threats against the community… and the risk of recruitment of minors.”
The right to freedom of movement of the members of these communities, along with others in the Choco area, have been severely affected. With the Colombian state virtually unable to provide humanitarian aid due to security concerns.
UNOCHA also issued a warning saying the situation could lead to “massive displacement.”
Reports say that the National Liberation Army (ELN), which is engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government, and the narco-paramilitary group known as the Gulf Clan are present in the Choco area.
Communities are also facing shortages of staple goods due to the confrontations between armed groups seeking to take control of territories that were previously held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which abandoned armed resistance after signing a peace agreement with President Juan Manuel Santos in 2016.
Approximately 3,525 Indigenous and Afro-Colombians are facing the same situation in the municipality of Bojaya, also in the Choco department. Choco is one of Colombia's poorest departments.