More than fifty years after the bloody conflict between rebels and government forces broke out, claiming over 220,000 lives and displacing millions within the country, the United Nations (UN) will officially end the mission to disarm the FARC rebels on 25 September 2017 – just ten months after the peace agreement was signed. During this period, the UN mission in Colombia, as a neutral actor in the tripartite mechanism, ensured that both sides kept to the agreements reached and actively supported the laying down of arms. It oversaw the registration, identification, storage and constant monitoring of weapons and munition, and developed a strategy for destroying ordnance.
Weapons deactivated by experts from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief
Volunteer experts from the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief are playing a key role in this strategy. The UN secured weapons belonging to former FARC fighters from 998 secret locations. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief has taken more than 8800 weapons and over twenty thousand munition cartridges out of commission using diamond cutters and plasma cutting devices with a precise cutting technique.
At the end of July, Germany immediately provided the Agency with 300,000 euros to deactivate the weapons following an appeal from the United Nations. Together with the funds that allowed disarmament to begin without delay at the beginning of the year, the Federal Government has contributed over 800,000 euros to this disarmament process to date. The Federal Government has supported the peace process as such with more than 30 million euros in direct project work as well as with extensive loans since 2016 alone.
A more peaceful future dawns
More than 8000 guerillas laid down their weapons in 26 peace zones in the first six months of 2017. The FARC movement intends to contribute peacefully to Colombia’s political process as a political party in the future. The UN will also support these efforts. In July 2017, the UN Security Council authorised a follow-up mission whose main task will be to verify the implementation of those chapters of the peace treaty that seek to reincorporate former FARC fighters in political, economic and social terms. In addition to the ongoing support measures, the Federal Government will assist this reincorporation process by contributing a further one million euros to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.