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Displaced Colombians need aid, U.N. says

BOGOTA, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Much work must be done to meet the needs of people displaced in Colombia, even though much has been done already, a U.N. official in the country said.

"It is clear that there is a serious humanitarian situation in Colombia, particularly the problems of millions of internally displaced persons and that there is a requirement collectively to do more to respond to these needs," John Holmes, Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief undersecretary-general, said in Bogota.

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Holmes is in Colombia to assess relief operations for victims of natural disaster and civil strife, the United Nations said Tuesday in news release.

Holmes said state and non-profit officials agree on the need to increase prevention and preparedness for natural disasters, such a rainy season that destroys tens of thousands of acres of crops. In addition, he said, violence has caused large-scale internal displacement in many areas.

Holmes expressed concern about indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities following the recent killing of members of the Awa group in Colombia's southwest region.

"There is a need to pay particular attention to the future of indigenous people and other vulnerable groups that have a special dependency on and attachment to their lands," Holmes said.

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