Demobilizing and reintegrating fighters from Colombian rebel groups FARC and ELN, currently negotiating peace with the government, will cost at least $350 million, according to the director of the country’s reintegration agency.
In an interview with economic magazine Dinero, the director of Colombia’s reintegration agency ACR, Alejandro Eder, said that the reintegration of a single demobilized fighter costs the agency $2.500 per year and the reintegration process lasts on average seven years.
In an earlier interview, Eder had said he expected to be demobilizing and integrating at least 20,000 fighters and unarmed members in the event of a peace deal with the country’s oldest and largest rebel group, meaning the total cost could rise to well above $350 million.
How are Colombia’s reintegrated ex-fighters doing?
This budget would cover, among other things, psycho-social therapy, education and job training.
During the reintegration process, the demobilized fighter at the start of the program will receive a subsidy slightly lower than $300, an amount that decreases over the months that follow.
Attending workshops and educational classes will grant the reintegrated ex-fighter extra funds.
The calculated cost of the reintegration process is only a fraction of the cost of the ongoing violence.
The Colombian government said in August that fighting groups like the FARC and ELN costs the Colombian tax payer approximately $10 billion a year. Before entering peace talks with the FARC in 2012, the same government claimed the annual cost was $2.67 billion.
Since establishing the reintegration agency 11 years ago, almost 57,000 persons have demobilized. Some 47,500 demobilized fighters entered a reintegration program. Since then, 6,800 former fighters have successfully been reintegrated. More than 5,000 were assassinated.
Among the reintegrated ex-fighters are former members of paramilitary organization AUC that demobilized between 2003 and 2006, and thousands of FARC and ELN rebels that deserted their ranks.