Reference : V-P-CO-E-02597
Date : 06/2015
Country/Region : COLOMBIA
Caption : Norte de Santander department, Las Mercedes. The ICRC provides aid to many civilians affected by the conflict.
Photographer : PEREA, Yohaysa
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website article, 25.06.2015: "Colombia: Families caught in the crossfire, homes left ruined. As Colombians look towards the prospect of peace, violence continues in many parts of the country. Thousands of people have turned to the ICRC for emergency relief. In places like Las Mercedes, Norte de Santander, families have been caught in the crossfire, with no safe place to go.
Las Mercedes has been at the centre of armed clashes for years. Families spend the day in their homes, but when night falls, they have to find somewhere else to sleep as it's simply not safe for them to stay.
When violence broke out just a few days ago, this precautionary measure saved many families' lives. But 26 houses were left damaged. The ICRC stepped in to make sure the families affected had somewhere to sleep and the materials to make their houses livable again, once the situation settle down.
74-year-old Ramiro knows he was lucky he wasn't at home during the attack that left his house in ruins. Whenever the situation in the village flares up, he and his wife seek refuge elsewhere.
"In the evening my wife and I leave, and we come back in the morning. We're at home during the day looking after the chickens because we depend on the eggs to earn a living," said Ramiro. Helping villagers overcome the destruction
"Since the emergency began, the ICRC has been working in Las Mercedes, listening to people's concerns and helping them to cope with their circumstances," explained Holman Arias, the ICRC's water and habitat engineer in this part of Colombia.
So far, 26 households and the local school have received materials to mend their roofs – the first step towards helping the village get back on its feet. 23 of those families also received money to pay for their accommodation in the local area while they repair their homes or, like Ramiro, wait for the danger to pass.
"The Red Cross gave me some money to pay the rent and some zinc roofing sheets to patch up the roof. But not yet. Caught in the crossfire, we can't even repair our house. I'll have to wait a while, because it looks like the trouble is set to continue," added Ramiro.
In the first week of July, ICRC experts will run training sessions in Las Mercedes to teach people about the dangers of landmines and unexploded bombs and how to avoid these threats. A temporary shelter is also being built for the community to use during emergencies, such as the recent outbreak of fighting."
Original material : digital
Resolution : 4584x3315
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour