Bogotá, Jun 2 (EFE).- The medical mission in Colombia has been the target of at least 256 attacks during protests against the government that began on Apr. 28, according to a report presented Wednesday by the Ministry of Health to international organizations.
“This report involves the main incidents (attacks) on the medical mission in Colombia. In this report we have shown that so far (…) 256 attacks have been presented,” said Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.
Ruiz presented the report at an extraordinary meeting attended by delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Colombian Red Cross, Doctors of the World, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization), the European Union and the United Nations.
Of the 256 documented attacks, 123 occurred in the department of Valle del Cauca, whose capital, Cali, continues to be the epicenter of the violence, and there were also high numbers in Norte de Santander (41), Bogotá (18), Huila (17), Cauca (16), and Cundinamarca and Nariño (six each), among other departments.
The head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia, Lorenzo Caraffi, warned that attacks against the medical mission have increased considerably this year, with 325 in all of 2020.
“It is a problem that has been increasing (…) and the attacks against the medical mission this year show this, even outside the demonstrations,” said Caraffi.
Ruiz also warned about the risk to which patients in intensive care units have been exposed due to the 39 blockades of important roads in the country that have affected the supply of oxygen and essential equipment.
Roadblocks maintained by some protesters are hindering emergency health care and the delivery of supplies such as oxygen and vaccines to hospitals in Colombia, which is in its deadliest wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ruiz stressed that together with the Red Cross and other entities, the National Medical Mission Board has organized humanitarian caravans to ensure that the supply of medicines and vaccines in areas paralyzed by the blockades.
The protests in Colombia have left at least people 20 dead, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, although the NGO Temblores and the Institute for Development and Peace Studies indicate that 60 deaths have been registered, 43 of them allegedly committed by the security forces. EFE