The confrontation between the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and the ELN guerrilla to control the territory of Catatumbo, Norte de Santander, resulted in the displacement of 12 families, sheltered in a school in the El Ambato village of the Tibu municipality.
The displacement occurred during the Reyes weekend, as a consequence of the paramilitary incursion and subsequent combats against the insurgents.
The report was delivered by the social organizations of Catatumbo, which drew attention to the interference of paramilitaries in 10 villages in Cucuta and Tibu, for which reason they remain on high alert for possible acts of violence against the civilian population.
Precisely, the Progresar Foundation, representative of the citizens, warned that the result of the clashes is being assumed by the families of the area, who must move by order of the paramilitaries attached to the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces.
This voice was joined by the civil authority, represented by the mayor of Tibú, Corina Durán, who confirmed that the acts of violence are causing a crisis of humanitarian dimensions in the area: Today we learned that approximately 12 families were displaced towards a school in Ambato, municipality of Tibú. We are already doing the verifications and therefore we are going to reach the area to take a census of all the families and meet the needs. Due to this humanitarian crisis, we also call on the National Government to support us in this situation, said the president.
According to members of the community, belonging to the rural area of Tibú, both armed structures are prohibiting the use of electronic devices to prevent them from recording the situation of the families as well as establishing any type of communication with external agents. In addition to the above, they have ordered confinement to reinforce said prohibition.
It was the mayor who revealed this situation in an official statement: The communities also reported that it has been impossible for them to communicate with the authorities because the illegal groups go to where they are and take the media away from them and that is why we had to wait almost five days because we did not have the authorization to enter to verify.
Through their representatives, the displaced population demanded guarantees for the return to their territories and requested respect for their lives from the irregular, paramilitary, and ELN, who are in conflict over the territory.
According to the Progresar Foundation in the first week of 2021, the total number of displacements in Catatumbo adds up to 40 families, of which 12 have been able to leave the conflict territory to stay at the school in the Ambato village.
They point out that the solitary confinement and confinement began on January 6 and was suspended when a delegation from the mayor’s office was allowed to enter to bring food and accompany the families.
This same organization indicates that in this area 3 social leaders were murdered, 2 massacres occurred with 12 victims, and about 300 people were displaced during 2020.
While the situation of displaced families is being defined, the foundation joined the call of local authorities for the nation to take measures that guarantee the fundamental rights of displaced families.