On March 19th 2009 a press communiqué of the UNHCR confirmed that in the last two weeks about 2000 indigenous Emberas have been forced to flee their homes in the Alto Baudò region of the Choco department near the pacific coast in north eastern Colombia; as a result of threats and fighting between the “Rastrojos” a criminal gang dedicated to the cocaine trade and the leftwing guerrillas of the National liberation army “ELN” that have long had a presence in the territory.
The Embera’s fled from 15 communities after 200 members of the gang of the “Rastrojos” entered their territory in the first week of March, they threatened them and tried to force them to collaborate in attacks against the frente Cimmaron of the ELN. In the region there is also presence of the Aurelio Rodriguez front of the FARC which according to information from military intelligence has an alliance with the “Rastrojos” to divide the cocaine trade in the department.
The Emberas are under constant pressure from the illegal armed groups and face grave difficulties in their ability to fish and hunt on their territory. In the Alto Baudo region the gang los “Rastrojos” has imposed an economic blockade along the rivers Catrù and Dubaza.
“We are receiving threats from all the illegal armed groups,” says an Embera leader. “They also want to take our boys and girls for this reason it is worrying that the government hasn’t registered all the forced displacements in the past”.
According to the United Nations at least 27 indigenous groups are under threat of extinction in Colombia mostly as a result of the armed conflict and the forced displacement. Their survival largely depends on their ability to remain in their ancestral territories.
Regrettably many have been forced to flee and continue to do so.
The latest incident from the same region: 24/02/2010 UNHCR
One month after the displacement of the communities of the Purricha indigenous reserve in the Bajo Baudò 1744 persons continue to be displaced.