Colombian Villagers Still at Risk Despite Peace Deal, Amnesty Says

Hundreds of Colombian villagers have been killed or driven from their homes despite the recent peace deal between the government and rebels, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

“Alarmingly, in large parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is as alive as ever,” Amnesty’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said Tuesday. “Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have yet to see any difference in their lives since the peace accords were signed.”

The new report focuses on the village of San Jose de Apartado, which declared itself a “peace community” 20 years ago by refusing to allow forces from either side in the fighting into the area.

Amnesty says that villagers report a surge in paramilitary activity over the last several months and that hundreds have been killed, forced out of their homes or threatened.

There has been no comment from the Colombian government on the Amnesty report, but Colombian officials have said paramilitary groups have long been disbanded.

Pact signed in November

Bogata signed a peace deal with the FARC rebels — the country’s largest rebel group — in November. It ended a 50-year uprising against numerous Colombian governments, leaving more than 200,000 dead.

The government is also holding talks with Colombia’s second rebel group, ELN.

Despite the peace accords, the International Committee of the Red Cross says fighting still rages between the government and other smaller rebel groups.

It says violence in the cities, unexploded mines and bombs, and restrictions on freedom of movement mean there is still “a long way to go in Colombia.”

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