Colombia's humanitarian situation worsened in 2022, says ICRC

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Clashes between Colombia's illegal armed groups worsened the country's humanitarian situation last year, with civilians subject to forced displacements and confinements, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.

Colombia's long-running internal conflict has killed at least 450,000 people and displaced millions.

Currently there are seven fronts to the conflict that intensified during 2022, sowing fear among civilians in regions where armed groups clash as they vie for social and territorial control, the ICRC said.

"Unfortunately, the deterioration of the humanitarian situation continued in a large part of the country during 2022," Lorenzo Caraffi, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia, told a news conference.

The ICRC found evidence that more than 180,000 people were displaced and tens of thousands confined to their houses or settlements.

It also said the number of people injured by landmines rose.

Some 515 people were injured by explosives last year, the highest number in six years, with 56 of the victims dying, the ICRC said.

Medical missions were attacked 426 times last year, the ICRC added, while 209 people were disappeared.

"It's a particularly complex context, of reconfiguration of armed actors, of struggle for territorial control, the social control that (armed) actors exercise against the civilian population, which finds itself in a particularly difficult situation," Caraffi said.

Caraffi said a ceasefire between the government and certain armed groups had alleviated the situation in some areas, but called on armed groups to allow humanitarian organizations access to conflict zones.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Barbara Lewis)