One step closer to peace in Colombia
The bloody conflict between the Colombian state and leftist guerilla group FARC may finally be coming to an end. Yesterday the UN Security Council said yes to monitoring a future ceasefire between the parties. This is a major step towards peace, but many challenges still remain.
“We now have the conditions in place to make history with a new peace agreement, but there are some matters that provide cause for concern, such as how the government will handle the other guerilla group, ELN,” says Alberto Yepes from Diakonia’s partner organization Coordinacion Colombia Europa Estados Unidos, which brings together 285 human rights organizations in Colombia and which is documenting human rights violations and working for justice for the victims of the conflict.
Paramilitary groups, which threaten and murder human rights activists, still pose a threat to peace and necessary social and economic reforms.
“They’re closely linked to the country’s powerful economic elite. They’ve basically rendered democratisation impossible,” says Alberto Yepes.
For over half a century, the armed conflict has plagued Colombia’s civilian population. More than 200,000 people have lost their lives, and over six million Colombians are currently living as internally displaced persons. FARC is the largest guerilla group, but the leftist guerilla ELN, paramilitary groups and criminal gangs and drug cartels also present obstacles to peace.
Peace talks have been in progress between the FARC guerillas and the Colombian government since 2012. Both parties have expressed optimism and a hope for a final peace agreement to be adopted by March this year.
“We’ll be continuing our work, and I hope that with the support of Diakonia and the international community, we can achieve an end to this drawn-out conflict that has plagued Colombians for generations,” says Alberto Yepes.