( dpa )- The medical situation of Ingrid Betancourt, the one-time Colombian presidential candidate who has been held hostage for more than six years by rebels, has deteriorated considerably and is "very very serious," officials say.
The government's emissary for human rights, Volmar Perez, said Betancourt suffers from Hepatitis B as well as so-called black fever, carried by sand flies that causes painful skin lesions, thet newspaper El Espectador reported Thursday.
The 46-year-old woman has been brought at least twice since February to health clinics in small villages in the province Guaviare in the south-east of the country, the newspaper said.
Perez was confirming earlier reports about Betancourt's situation. Her problems have apparently not been treated.
Hepatitis can cause permanent liver damage and death. Betancourt also has French citizenship and has become a cause celebre in France.
It was urgent to get medicines to her, Perez said. At the same time, he appealed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) to release her and the other hostages, who number in the hundreds.
FARC is believed to have held at least 740 people over a long period of time, many years. FARC wants to exchange about 40 of them - military, police and politicians - for 500 imprisoned rebels.
But the government of conservative President Alvaro Uribe and FARC have been unable for years to agree on the conditions at well as the place for the exchange.