Colombia’s FARC-EP Prepares to Lay Down Weapons
Peace Moves a Step Closer
The Colombian peace process moved into a crucial phase this week after the last of the FARC-EP’s 6,900 fighters arrived in Agua Bonita, in the department of Caquetá in central Colombia, on 18 February. Agua Bonita is one of the sites where the FARC-EP members will lay down their weapons, a step that will be verifired by the UN Mission in the country. Over 19 days, the FARC-EP fighters -- men and women, some of them pregnant or with small children -- rode in cars, buses and boats or walked around 8,700 kilometers through 36 routes across the country. They were accompanied by over 860 women and men from the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM), which is made up of Government and FARC-EP representatives and coordinated by the UN Mission.
“This is a historic step, in which the last 300 fighters of the third, fourteenth and fifteenth front are entering the... Agua Bonita zone,” said the UN Mission’s head observer, Gen. Javier Perez Aquino, who witnessed the move. “With this we completed approximately 6,900 FARC fighters entering the 26 zones designated for the disarmament process.”
“This decision considerably reduces the possibility of armed contact (…) and we also hope that their presence will accelerate the construction works in these camps, creating the appropriate conditions to continue with the process that will lead to their reinsertion into the social, economic and political life.”
For Dubernei, commander of the FARC-EP’s “third front”, the gathering of fighters in Agua Bonita and the other zones brings peace a step closer.
“Peace is for everyone, peace benefits us all, the fighters, the peasants, the soldiers, the people as a whole,” he said.
The UN Mission in Colombia, overseen by the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, is headquartered in Bogotá and has eight regional and 26 local sites, where it works with FARC-EP and Government members verifying the parties’ commitments towards the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. The UN Mission’s 350 observers hail from 16 countries, most of them from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, but also from the United Kingdom, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Top photo: Arrival of the last FARC-EP fighters in the Agua Bonita zone. Photo: UN Mission in Colombia.