The Red Cross is waiting for Colombia’s government and the rebel group ELN to contact them regarding possible peace talks.
The international aid organization acted as an intermediary between the government and the ELN to secure the Tuesday release of Canadian engineer, Jernoc Wobert, who was taken hostage by the rebel group in January. President Juan Manuel Santos had made his release a precondition for joining the peace talks currently being held with main rebel group FARC.
The leader of Colombia’s delegation for the Red Cross, Jordi Raich, said on Tuesday that the organization is “ready to facilitate any peace process when it is asked to do so by the two parties.”
But they have not yet been asked. A spokesperson for the aid organization said on Thursday that “they are the ones who have to make contact with us… We have not yet had any contact.”
This is despite the President’s comments on Wednesday that his administration was ready to begin peace talks with the ELN “as soon as possible.”
The ELN has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. While sharing similar ideologies with the FARC, the ELN frequently clashed with the larger rebel group until a non-aggression pact was agreed earlier this year by FARC leader “Timochenko” and ELN chief “Gabino.”
If the Santos administration succeeds in brokering peace with both rebel groups, it will mark the end to an almost 50-year guerrilla war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Colombians.
- Interview with Erika Tovar (International Committee of the Red Cross)