A senior United Nations official on Thursday called on the international community to build on the “huge progress” made in Colombia in recent years.
John Ging, Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, was speaking after concluding a two-day visit to Colombia.
“We as the international community must support the people of Colombia as they strive to recover from decades of conflict,” he said.
“While there has been recent progress in the peace talks [between the government and Colombia’s main rebel group FARC], there are still hundreds of thousands of people waiting for the most basic improvements in healthcare, sanitation, food security, education and livelihoods,” added Ging.
The 49-year armed conflict has cost the lives of 220,000 people and caused the displacement of almost 6 million, according to the National Center for Historical Memory. The government’s estimate is closer to 600,000 deaths.
Apart from meeting the government in Bogota, Ging met with local authorities and organizations in Guapi and Limones, in the southwestern Cauca district, to witness the situation of those displaced by violence. For two consecutive years the 800 residents of Limones have been displaced by fighting between the FARC and Colombia’s army.
“People in places like Guapi and Limones have suffered too much for far too long,” Ging said, before praising the government for its work to improve the humanitarian situation in Colombia: “I was deeply impressed by the capacity and commitment of both the local and national authorities I met in Colombia,” admitted Ging.
“The Government has the commitment to solve the remaining challenges and the international community must be equally resolved to stay the course,” added Ging.
FARC began peace talks with the government in November. On Friday they suspended the talks to study a proposal for a referendum on a final peace deal.