The UN Security Council was notified on Wednesday that deadlines on both the FARC’s demobilization and the dismantling of guerrilla explosives cannot be met.
Jean Arnault, the Special Representative of the UN in Colombia, told the Security Council that the January 1 deadline for the FARC rebels to be fully concentrated in pre-determined demobilization camps was not met due to “logistical problems”.
He also informed the council it “will not be possible to meet the January 30 deadline for the destruction of unstable ammunition spread in caches throughout the country.”
With the United Nations overseeing the process, the FARC was supposed to demobilize more than 16,000 people before new year’s eve to fulfill the terms of their peace accord with Colombia’s government
However, some 26 encampments that were supposed to shelter the former guerrillas in many cases were never prepared, with the government claiming that the public’s shock rejection of the first agreement on October 2 froze their legal capacity to make funds available to start the constructions.
This, coupled with the substandard state of infrastructure in Colombia’s war-torn areas, is making it difficult for the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos to stick to the strict demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) timeline agreed in the peace deal.
“To date, construction has begun in one-third of the zones, preparations are ongoing in another third, while the remainder continues to face difficulties,” explained Arnault.
While the UN representative informed the Security Council that the January 30 deadline for the destruction of unstable ammunition across the country will not be met, he did express optimism for the future of the demobilization process.
The Special Representative was satisfied that Santos and FARC leaders have expressed their determination “to do everything possible to meet the original goal of the comprehensive lay-down of weapons by early June.”
The Frenchman also emphasized the necessity of continued support from the UN Security Council who agreed to oversee the DDR process almost a year ago.
As the process of implementation of the Peace Agreement gets under way, the attention and unanimous support of this Council, and its encouraging voice, will continue to be a very important source of confidence and strength.”
UN Special Representative Jean Arnault
In total, some 6,600 guerrillas and approximately 10,000 militia members are expected to demobilize and disarm.
With several neo-paramilitary groups lurking in the background it is essential that suitable provision is made for the security of the FARC in demobilization camps.
As Colombian society is divided over the peace deal and some still suspicious about the intentions of the FARC, the government and the UN must make steady and efficient progress in removing weapons from the hands of the rebels who have waged war against the state for more than half a century.
The FARC’s demobilization and disarmament is part of a major, 10-year peace process that seeks to end a cycle of violence that has left more than 8 million victims.