February 19, 2018 / 2:21 PM / in 6 months

Violence in Colombia has displaced more than 800 people - U.N.

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Violence by criminal gangs battling over drug trafficking areas has displaced more than 800 people in northwestern Colombia, the United Nations said.

Areas previously controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, who demobilized last year following a peace deal, have become flashpoints for fighting among crime gangs and smaller rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Poor farmers and indigenous people have recently fled the rural municipality of Caceres, in Antioquia province.

“We express our worry about the persistence of forced displacement of indigenous people and farming communities in the rural areas of Caceres, which between 19 January and today has affected at least 822 people,” the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement on Sunday.

The agencies also expressed alarm at the increase in the number of murders in the Bajo Cauca area, without giving figures.

Violence has continued in some areas of the Andean country despite the 2016 peace deal between the government and the FARC to end a five-decade conflict. The FARC is now a political party.

The competing groups are eager to control lucrative illegal mining and cultivation of coca, the base ingredient in cocaine, and the trafficking routes that send the drug to consumers, largely in the United States and Europe.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Alistair Bell

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