A unilateral ceasefire declared by Colombia’s FARC rebels during peace talks with the government has reduced conflict-related violence to its lowest level in 30 years, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Peace talks in Cuba between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began in late 2012 amid the confrontation, during which the rebels have declared six unilateral ceasefires.
Fabrizio Hochschild, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator In Colombia, also said massive displacement had decreased by 27% compared to the same period before the talks.
“Since November of 2012, when the peace negotiations began, massive displacement decreased 27% compared to the 32 months prior to the negotiations. In this time period, the number of military acts also decreased, as did the attacks on the civilian population and the number of victims of antipersonnel mine and ammunition and kidnapping,” said Hochschild at a press conference in Bogota.
The UN representatives also said there had also been a decline in displacement of individuals, attacks on civilians, victims of mine explosions and kidnapping.
“We can definitely say that yes, truces had an impact at the humanitarian level. As various analysts have said, during the unilateral ceasefires particularly the one from December 20, 2014 to May 22, 2015, there were the lowest recorded levels of violence in the past few years; there are even some who say in the past 30 years,” Gerard Gomez, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Latin American and Caribbean Region (OCHA) said.
Nevertheless, the UN report estimated that almost 650,000 people were displaced in the first 32 months of the talks, with leftist guerrilla groups allegedly responsible for 46% of these displacements.
Reasons for displacement
Attacks against the civilian population dropped 10% during the peace talks to 2,963, said the UN. The FARC allegedly carried out 16% of these attacks while 49% was carried out by unidentified actors.
Perpetrators of attacks against civilians
The FARC is currently maintaining its sixth unilateral ceasefire since the talks began, while Santos suspended air strikes on rebel camps and units.
Both sides agreed last month to reduce the intensity of confrontation and speed up the negotiation through peace talks aimed at ending an armed conflict of over half a century that has left more than 260,000 dead.
Despite the ups and downs and the skepticism of many Colombians, the talks in Havana have made more progress than all previous efforts to end the continent’s oldest armed conflict.