- UN monitors reported that right-wing paramilitary groups are moving into former rebel-controlled areas
The last of almost 7,000 FARC rebels entered designated “safe zones” on Saturday, completing a key first step in the peace agreement.
As FARC rebels completed their final demobilisation on Saturday and entered the last of the 26 designated safe zones, UN monitors reported that right-wing paramilitary groups are moving into former rebel-controlled areas displacing almost a hundred families.
Both FARC leader Timoleon Jiménez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos celebrated the completion of “three weeks of day and night movement” which brought almost 7,000 FARC troops to UN supervised “green zones” — a key step in the peace agreement which ended the countries 52-year civil war — where the former left-wing guerillas will disarm.
The UN mission in Colombia also praised the development, noting that the Colombian government had not fully lived up to its promises to prepare the safe zones for the almost 7,000 FARC soldiers who will now disarm and begin their transition to civilian life.
“The FARC-EP leadership’s decision to group its forces in these Zones—despite the lack of preparation of the camps in the vast majority of these areas— was positive,” the mission said in a statement released earlier this week.
However, the UN mission expressed deep concern over the arrival of right-wing paramilitaries in Northern rural areas vacated by the FARC, which has led to the displacement of 96 families, according to the BBC.
“During the visit to La Gabarra, the Mission noted similar concerns to those heard in other departments about the insecurity of communities in places that have historically been affected by violence, in particular of new threats linked to the entry of illegal armed groups,” said a spokesperson for the UN mission which is supervising the implementation of the peace accord signed last November.
The BBC reported that unnamed UN officials say the paramilitary groups are trying to take over mining and cocaine cultivation operations which had previously been taxed and regulated by the FARC.
The Colombian government denied the UN report, with Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin telling local press there was “no certainty of any such displacement.”
Last week Campesino organisations in the area attempted to prevent FARC troops from leaving the area over concerns that they would be left vulnerable to violence from the paramilitary groups.
During the 52-year civil war in Colombia more than six million people have been displaced, the second-highest number in the world after Syria.