Colombian Armed Conflict Claims Over Five Million Victims

By Dialogo
October 02, 2012

More than five million victims have resulted from the armed conflict in Colombia that has been affecting the country for almost half a century, of which about 600,000 people were murdered, according to government calculations.

The figures, however, do not reveal the full scale of the problem, indicated Paula Gaviria, head of the Unit for Integral Attention and Reparation of Victims [of armed conflict], the organization that implemented a law regarding this issue, which was passed in June 2011.

“So far, we have registered cases since 1974,” specified the official source, after pointing out that due to the complexity of the Colombian armed conflict and its long duration, it is very difficult to obtain the exact number of victims, survivors or dead.

Out of the estimated total, 40% (2 million) are guerrilla victims, while 25% (1.2 million) are paramilitary victims, stated Gaviria, who insisted that the figures are not definitive, since denouncers are not obliged to declare which group was the aggressor, and in many cases, the victims are not aware of which organization was responsible for the offensive.

The main reasons why victims make claims are: forced displacement, kidnapping, sexual violence, recruitment of minors, and anti-personnel mines.

After Colombia suffered political violence in the early 1950s, the country engaged in an armed conflict with the emergence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) from the 1960s onward.

The armed conflict between these guerrillas and the State worsened with the emergence of drug cartels in the 70s, and in the 80s with far-right paramilitary groups that fought a bloody battle against these guerrillas.

Now, President Juan Manuel Santos will start peace negotiations with the FARC on October 15, to be held in Norway and Cuba. The Colombian head of state is looking forward to a successful outcome by the end of the year.