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Good morning, this is Kasmira. For aid workers operating in regions where organised crime is prevalent, it often means having to rethink entirely how to respond to those communities in need. Could international humanitarian law better serve them in these contexts? Our reporter examines below.

Plus, as the UN tech agency holds its annual AI summit, we ask experts attending the event how the UN should go about regulating AI.

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Kasmira Jefford


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Indigenous men guard an alleged member of an illegal armed group detained during confrontations with indigenous people in El Porvenir, Colombia, on 23 April, 2021. (Keystone/AFP/Luis Robayo)

Amid the rise of violence from private criminal groups, humanitarians are having to adapt their modus operandi in affected areas to respond to needs. Academics are also having their say on how gangs and cartels should be regarded.

Responsible for an estimated $9 trillion in earnings annually, organised crime also weighs heavily in terms of its humanitarian footprint, often generating hunger, poverty and displacement in already vulnerable communities.

“The humanitarian consequences of criminal violence can be as tragic and unacceptable as in major armed conflicts,” Gilles Carbonnier, vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said during a recent panel organised by the International Review of the Red Cross, entitled Addressing the Humanitarian Costs of Organised Crime.

In countries such as Haiti, children miss school, and people in need of medical care are unable to access health services as frontlines between gangs limit movement by residents trapped within neighbourhoods. Throughout the region, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee the violence, sometimes through long, dangerous routes controlled by gangs, such as in the Darién Gap bridging Colombia to Central America, and in Mexico. Elsewhere, such as in the Chocó region of Colombia, communities are subjected to forced confinement by criminal groups.

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