The Marxist guerrillas have been fighting the paramilitary successors for years, primarily over territorial control around the Atrato River, a major drug corridor.
The ceasefire closed with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos will prohibit the guerrillas of carrying our attacks on civilians.
However, it will be allowed to defend itself against the apparent paramilitary offensive that has been trying to push the guerrilla units in the western jungles southward.
The long-neglected region has been home of the ELN for decades and is one of the country’s most important drug trafficking regions.
The Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) has been disputing this territory for years.
There have been reports of clandestine armies of hundreds of men. Thousands of indigenous and afro-Colombian inhabitants of the region have already been displaced.
According to conflict monitoring website Verdad Abierta, the ongoing tensions and combat are causing a “serious” humanitarian disaster on the west side of the Atrato river that runs straight through the Choco province.
Because of an absence of authorities, most of the information in regards to combat comes from the ELN, which has claimed to have killed as many as 60 paramilitary combatants in the course of the year.
The guerrillas did not report casualties on their side.
According to sources consulted by Verdad Abierta, the violence between the ELN and AGC could increase in the weeks before and after the beginning of the ceasefire.
Both groups could try to take advantage from the absence of military pressure on the ELN, which has accused the military of working together with the paramilitary group.
Choco has been most affected by Colombia’s armed conflict even before the fighting between the ELN and the AGC began. According to the country’s Victims Unit, two out of three inhabitants from the impoverished region has fallen victim to violence related to the drug-fueled armed conflict.