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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BOGOTA4808
2005-05-20 12:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

NGO ESTIMATES 10 PERCENT INCREASE IN NEW INTERNAL

Tags:   PREF  PGOV  PHUM  SOCI  SNAR  CO 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 004808 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2015
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SNAR CO
SUBJECT: NGO ESTIMATES 10 PERCENT INCREASE IN NEW INTERNAL
DISPLACEMENT IN FIRST QUARTER OF 2005

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood Reasons 1.4 (b&d)



1. (C) Summary. A respected Colombian NGO, the Consultancy
for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) estimated that
there were 61,996 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
the first quarter of 2005, a 10 percent increase over the
same period in 2004. CODHES attributed the rise to an
increase in confrontation between Government security forces
and the FARC, expansion of drug cultivation and aerial drug
eradication, paramilitary ceasefire violations, and GoC
detentions of alleged terrorists. The International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Head of Delegation
privately questioned CODHES' figures based on the number of
Colombians ICRC has assisted in the field. Government IDP
agency contacts said that while official tallies were not
complete, 5653 new IDPs registered with the Government and
25,000 applications are pending. While all agree that there
is a serious humanitarian situation in Colombia, the debate
over figures on new internal displacement continues. END
SUMMARY.



--------------------------



--------------------------


GoC Registers New IDPs, CODHES Estimates New Displacement


--------------------------



--------------------------




2. (C) The GoC's IDP agency (Red de Solidaridad Social -
RSS) reviews applications of individuals who apply for
Government benefits because they have been internally
displaced as a result of Colombia's long standing conflict.
If approved, the RSS officially registers the individual and
provides government assistance. The RSS reported it
registered 5653 new cases of IDPs and 25,000 applications
were pending at the beginning of March 2005. CODHES
Assistant Director Marco Romero explained that CODHES
estimates the number of new displacements based on
information from the media, NGOs, the GoC, ICRC, the UN, the
Catholic Church, local government, academic institutions, and
through some field work. Based on these trends, CODHES
projects the number of new internal displacements.



--------------------------


The Difference?


--------------------------




3. (C) The difference between the two organizations is their
methodology. The GoC registers new IDPs and can provide
detailed information on origin of displacement, current
residence, occupation, and how many members in the family.
CODHES has no capacity to track individual IDPs, but relies
on open source materials to estimate new displacement.
CODHES' Marco Romero told RefCoord that if there are
conflicting reports on new displacement from equally
reputable sources (i.e. the Prosecutor General's Office and

an NGO), CODHES always uses the higher number. CODHES
includes reports of internal displacement in its estimate
regardless of whether the case is accepted by the GoC. If an
IDP registers with the GoC and displaces again, the
Government does not register the new displacement since the
IDP is already receiving GoC aid. CODHES does include the
new displacement.



4. (C) GoC Rate of Refusal: CODHES reported that the RSS
refusal rate rose significantly and in some areas (Choco
Department, and Bogota) was over 50 percent. RSS contacts
reported a 21 percent refusal rate nationwide but cautioned
that the rate varied within the country. The RSS
acknowledged that there is an under registration of IDPs and
launched an information campaign in early 2004 to reach
populations in remote areas and to increase information about
IDP rights under Colombian law.



--------------------------


Drug Eradication and Displacement


--------------------------




5. (C) The GoC does not/not approve applications of those who
displace because of aerial drug eradication -- CODHES does.
Romero said CODHES has no way of estimating how many displace
as a result of aerial eradication. CODHES reports cites
"forced eradication" as a major cause of new displacement in
early 2005, especially in Narino Department. The Narcotics
Affairs Section reported that the GoC sprayed 58,143 hectares
of coca and 748 hectares of opium poppy in the first quarter
of 2005 -- the vast majority in Narino (44,567 hectares of
coca and 393 hectares of poppy). While increased aerial
eradication in Narino Department supports CODHES' conclusion,
NAS notes that the rate of replanting of coca in Narino
remains high despite several spray campaigns.



--------------------------


Population and New Census


--------------------------




6. (C) CODHES reported that much of the new displacement
originated in southern Colombia (generally less populated
areas) because of the GoC's Plan Patriota, drug eradication
and confrontations between the FARC and GoC security forces.
The RSS cited the highest number of newly displaced from
Choco (1237) and Antioquia (905) -- both in northern
Colombia. Colombia's last nationwide census was done in


1993. The new census, which begins on May 22 will provide
more clarity on actual population and demographics.



--------------------------


ICRC Assistance to New IDPs


--------------------------




7. (C) ICRC's Head of Delegation Juan Pedro Schaerer
(protect) told RefCoord he did not know how CODHES arrived at
their estimate of nearly 62,000 newly displaced. ICRC staff
said ICRC figures historically represented between 40-50
percent of official GoC numbers of IDPs. The ICRC assisted
11,549 newly displaced during the first 3 months of 2005
which ICRC said tracks with RSS staff unofficial estimate of
20,000 new IDPs in the first 2 months of 2005.



--------------------------


Massive Displacements Rise


--------------------------




8. (C) All sources agreed that massive internal displacements
increased in early 2005. Conflict between FARC and
paramilitary groups battling for control over key narcotics
cultivation and transit corridors in the Rio Atrato region of
Choco Department resulted in the displacement of more than
1500 persons on February 14. ICRC reported that they have
assisted 6,900 individuals in northern Cauca Department who
displaced as a result of FARC attacks on Toribio, Jambalo,
and other towns that began April 14. Most of the IDPs are
members of indigenous tribes.



9. (C) COMMENT: CODHES' recent report sharply criticized the
Uribe Administration for rejecting the idea that there is an
"internal conflict" in Colombia and predicted the GoC's
statistics on new displacements will reach CODHES estimates
by the end of the year. Colombia's new national census,
which begins May 22, will update official population figures
from 1993. GoC and ICRC contacts believe CODHES has
overestimated the number of newly displaced in order to keep
attention focused on IDPs. As the paramilitary peace process
has progressed, IDP advocacy groups have grown concerned that
more GoC and international community funding will go to
support the paramilitary demobilization and reinsertion
process, leaving less for IDPs. END COMMENT
WOOD