A group of 260 Colombian NGO’s have announced their support for a bilateral ceasefire amid peace talks between the government and rebel group FARC.
President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Wednesday that the government plans to move negotiations over a bilateral truce forward after the FARC had called a unilateral ceasefire in December.
The large group of non-governmental and social organizations in Colombia have made a call to the Colombian government and the FARC to advance actions to lower the intensity of the armed conflict in the country.
The umbrella organization, Colombia-Europe-United States CCEEU, which represents the group of NGO’s, has also called on the FARC to maintain its ceasefire, while a bilateral ceasefire is agreed.
In addition, the CCEEU has called on the military forces to contribute constructively to the discussion surrounding a bilateral ceasefire and has asked both parties to advance actions towards the de-escalation of violence. The organization says that this will provide relief to many citizens across the country who are experiencing a violation of their rights because of the armed conflict.
Furthermore, the CCEEU has called on the government and the ELN to agree immediately on an agenda to reach the negotiating table. They have suggested that the ELN should express its commitment to the negotiating process more precisely by implementing actions that demonstrate their commitment to peace.
Finally in regards to the government, the CCEEU has stated that the government should strongly reaffirm their interest and availability to move forward with a process of dialogue with the guerrillas.
The planned truce follows more than two years of negotiating between Colombia’s largest rebel group and the state. If successful, the peace deal will end 50 years of violence between the FARC and the state in a war that according to official estimates has cost the lives of more than 900,000 Colombians and displaced more than 6 million, or 13% of the population.