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DATE=2/17/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-245652 TITLE=COLOMBIA VIOLENCE (L ONLY) BYLINE=GEORGE MEEK DATELINE=RIO DE JANEIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: VIOLENCE IN COLOMBIA CAUSED MORE THAN 300-THOUSAND PEOPLE TO FLEE THEIR COMMUNITIES LAST YEAR, ACCORDING TO A NEW OFFICIAL REPORT. CORRESPONDENT GEORGE MEEK IN OUR SOUTH AMERICA BUREAU HAS DETAILS. TEXT: PUBLIC DEFENDER JOSE FERNANDO CASTRO SAYS 308-THOUSAND COLOMBIANS WERE DISPLACED IN 1998 BY VIOLENCE, AND THE FIGURE HAS BEEN RISING ALARMINGLY. HE SAYS THAT NUMBER REPRESENTS ABOUT ONE-FIFTH OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONS DISPLACED IN THE PAST 14 YEARS. THE REPORT, ISSUED IN COOPERATION WITH THE PRIVATE "HUMAN RIGHTS AND REFUGE OFFICE", SAYS THE COLOMBIANS FLEE BECAUSE OF ASSASSINATIONS BY RIGHTIST PARAMILITARY GROUPS, LEFTIST GUERRILLAS, AND GOVERNMENT TROOPS. ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, THE TOTAL NUMBER OF MASSACRES DECLINED SLIGHTLY LAST YEAR DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN THE SYSTEM OF COUNTING. THERE WAS AN AVERAGE OF ONE MASSACRE EVERY OTHER DAY, AND THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PERSONS KILLED WAS MORE THAN 12-HUNDRED. THE REPORT SAYS PARAMILITARY GROUPS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR NEARLY HALF THE SLAYINGS, WHILE GUERRILLAS ACCOUNTED FOR LESS THAN ONE-IN-FOUR. THE REST WERE ATTRIBUTED TO GOVERNMENT TROOPS AND ARMED CRIMINAL GANGS. COLOMBIAN VICE-PRESIDENT GUSTAVO BELL SAYS THE GOVERNMENT WILL SEEK ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO PROTECT THE LIVES OF HUNDREDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS WHO HAVE BEEN THREATENED. SOME HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICES HAVE CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE ESCALATING VIOLENCE. (SIGNED) NEB/GM/ENE/PT 17-Feb-99 3:52 PM EST (2052 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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