BOGOTÁ (AP) — Dressed in white, an indigenous woman asked her ancestors and nature for peace in Colombia, while a drum sounded inside a maloca, a house sacred to indigenous peoples and whose the performance is far from the jungle and in the center of Bogota.

The demand for peace is reiterated among indigenous peoples, given that despite their minority in Colombia, they continue to suffer the rigors of violence in their territories.

“Most of the lockdowns and mass displacements affect them and, being part of the population (4%), they suffer more than half of all the effects of violence,” Claudia Rodríguez Burrell told The Associated Press. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Colombia (OCHA).

The impact of the violence, which they denounce as disproportionate, has alerted organizations in the humanitarian sector, including the United Nations agencies, and has led to a humanitarian management strategy targeting this population group, which has been made public. Friday.

Mireia Villar Forner, the United Nations resident coordinator in Colombia, said at the launch of the strategy that she alerted them that last year they had found cases of young indigenous people who had resorted to suicide.

Although there is no official figure for suicide among indigenous communities, Rodríguez Burrell explained that during visits to the communities they have learned that some young people commit suicide out of desperation because they cannot live. in their territories according to their own vision of the world.

“Lockdowns have a very perverse effect, in the sense that people can’t go out, they can’t fish or farm, there is hunger and also violence inside the houses. All this fabric is manifested in the despair of young people,” added the head of the OCHA office.

For Rodríguez Burrell, indigenous peoples are affected by the “reconfiguration of violence”. Although in 2016 the state signed a peace agreement with the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and there was a “decrease in violence”, it then increased around 2018 due to the territorial jurisdiction maintained by other armed groups, particularly in the western and border areas where indigenous populations live.

The humanitarian strategy, prepared by the humanitarian country team which includes national and international non-governmental humanitarian organizations, includes an expansion of the 2023 humanitarian response plan dedicated solely to indigenous peoples.

The document is the result of a consultation exercise with indigenous communities to respect their vision of the world and has as priority areas the monitoring of events related to violence and natural disasters, community protection, food security, education and the people’s own health system.

Esneda Saavedra Restrepo, an indigenous Yukpa with a nomadic vocation, assured during the event that they aspire to peace in their territories, have enough land to plant or harvest food and hope that the process with humanitarian organizations will continue over time.

In Colombia, 22 indigenous peoples are in danger of extinction, according to the Human Rights Observatory of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), not only because of violence, but also because of the illegal mining, illicit crops and the impact on their own cultural. .

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