Most Victims of Colombia’s Armed Conflict are Civilians

By Dialogo
July 29, 2013

Most victims of Colombia’s armed conflict are civilians, and represent eight out of every 10 dead, according to a study by the Center of Historical Memory, a presidential institution.

The report, made by social investigators and presented as the most complete study of Colombia’s internal conflict, stated that 220,000 deaths have taken place, 81.5% of which are civilians and 18.5 are combatants.

This means that “eight out of 10 dead were civilians, who are also [the group] most affected by the violence,” stated Andrés Suárez, one of the authors of the report, based on the Register of Victims (RUV), and on his own private research and investigations.

Although the state unit for Victims Reparations said that Colombia’s armed conflict since 1974 resulted in 600,000 deaths, Suárez added that the information is distorted. “It is confusing victims of the conflict with the number of victims from generalized violence,” the researcher said, adding that drug traffickers and social cleansing groups were responsible for these crimes.

In addition, the murder of civilians during the conflict represents one third of violent deaths registered in Colombia in the reporting period, Suárez added, while acknowledging there was “an important registry of unofficial figures.”

“With regard to the 220,000 victims, we know where, when, (they were murdered) who did it, and in several cases, who was the victim. This is not an approximation,” he explained.

The document also added that until March 31, the RUV reported 25,007 missing people; 1,754 victims of sexual violence; 6,421 minors recruited by armed groups and 4.7 million displaced people.

However, this figure may reach 5.7 million, considering that there are about 819,510 documented cases between 1985 and 1995 by the NGO, Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES).

Moreover, the study indicates that between 1970 and 2010, 27,023 kidnappings associated with the conflict were reported, as well as 10,189 victims of antipersonnel mines.