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Last Updated:2/23/01
U.S. embassy statement on violence in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, February 20, 2001

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Violence in Barrancabermeja

The United States Embassy deplores the ongoing, and increased, violence in the city of Barrancabermeja. The city is currently in the midst of intensified fighting as the paramilitaries and the guerrillas fight to control the region. This urban warfare resulted in 567 homicides in the year 2000. Already over 60 persons have been killed this year.

We sadly note that the true victims of the ongoing civil strife in Barrancabermeja, and in all of Colombia, are innocent civilians. We call on all sides of the conflict to obey international humanitarian law and to move to reduce the impact of the conflict on innocent civilians immediately by abandoning attacks in areas where civilians may be killed or injured.

Civilian organizations active in Barrancabermeja play a key role in defending human rights and community interests. International NGOs, including Peace Brigades International, seek to protect human rights defenders and merit equal respect and support. Embassy officials meet regularly with representatives of these groups, including CREDHOS and the Organization for Popular Feminism (OFP), and share the concern of many over threats to these organizations. The role of NGOs and human rights defenders should be respected by all in order to build a better future for Barrancabermeja and for Colombia as a whole.

As of February 23, 2001, this document was also available online at http://usembassy.state.gov/colombia/wwwhbar1.html#English

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