Colombia sees surge in mass killings in 2020: UN

USA & World

Colombia sees surge in mass killings in 2020: UN

Colombia has recorded at least 42 massacres since the start of 2020, the highest number since the 2016 signing of a peace agreement with the former FARC fighters, the United Nations has said.

The UN, which is responsible for verifying application of the agreement, said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned about the surge in mass killings in various regions of the South American country in recent months. The UN defines a massacre as the killing of three or more people at one time.

It said 13 other incidents were being verified.

The UN peace mission in Colombia recorded 36 massacres in 2019, 29 in 2018 and 11 in 2017.

“These crimes take place mainly in areas of poverty where the state has little presence, where the illegal economy reigns and there are disputes between illegal armed groups and criminal organisations,” said the report published on Thursday.

Colombia is experiencing a surge in violence due to armed groups that finance themselves through drug trafficking, according to the Colombian government.

The UN also noted the “relentless violence” against former FARC fighters, with 50 of them killed since the start of the year.

In total since the signing of the agreement, 224 former fighters have been killed and 20 have disappeared.

The UN also noted an increase in violence against human rights activists and civil society leaders, with 48 killings, including nine people from ethnic minorities and five women, this year.