Update 8:30PM EDT: UNICEF Colombia’s website is able to accept Mocoa aid donations from outside Colombia: www.unicef.org.co/mocoa
Update 11:30AM EDT 4/4: MercyCorps has continuing programs in Mocoa and Putumayo, and is accepting donations.
After midnight on Saturday, it started raining extremely heavily in the highland city of Mocoa, the capital of Colombia’s department of Putumayo. About two feet of rain fell within a few hours. The three normally shallow, non-navigable rivers running through the town swelled past their banks, sending mud, boulders, and debris through marginal neighborhoods along the floodplain. The latest count is more than 250 people dead and many neighborhoods destroyed.
Followers of U.S. policy know that Putumayo was where the “Plan Colombia” military aid package got going back in 2000-01. The department is one of Colombia’s principal coca-growing zones, a FARC stronghold that saw a string of military-backed paramilitary incursions and massacres in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Most of that, however, occurred in the majority of the department that’s in the lowlands: Mocoa mostly escaped that. It’s an old colonial town, hours’ drive from the coca fields, that didn’t see the same levels of violence. Because of its relative calm, Mocoa received a lot of people displaced by the conflict, many of whom lived in the neighborhoods that were destroyed this weekend.
Right now, there’s no easy way yet to make donations from outside Colombia. The Colombian embassy says they’re working on an easier method—and I’ll update this when I hear—but for now the government’s disaster relief agency is using the following Citibank intermediary account for wire transfers.
Citibank, New York
399 Park Avenue, New York NY 10001
SWIFT code: CITIUS33
ABA code: 02100089
Chips ABA code: 0008