In spite of delays and mutual finger-pointing between the government and demobilizing FARC rebels over irregularities, the United Nations has collected more than 500 FARC weapons so far, the Colombian said Monday.
General Javier Florez, the head of the Colombian military’s Strategic Command for Transition, said that 507 FARC weapons had been registered and collected by UN officials.
“We have received the following materials: 137 rifles belonging to men of the FARC who are participants in the monitoring mechanism, 310 of the men who are going to teach locally and 60 who will teach at a national level,” he said.
Florez is also a member of the tripartite monitoring and verification mission tasked with overseeing the FARC’s disarmament process. It is made up of Colombian government officials, FARC guerrillas, and UN observers.
On March 1, the FARC, once Colombia’s largest guerrilla army, began a UN-monitored disarmament process across 26 camps around the country.
All of the rebel group’s weapons are scheduled to be collected by May 29, but delays in the preparation of FARC camps by the Colombian government have threatened the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration timeline.
On the day the FARC was supposed to demobilize, the government had failed to prepare camps that would allow the demobilization, and when the day came to demobilize, the government was forced to admit the promised containers to store the arms were nowhere near the camps.
Consequently, the DDR timeline was pushed back by over a month (30% of rebel arms were originally scheduled to be collected by March 1). Some camps remain unfinished and are built by the demobilizing guerrillas themselves.
The UN Mission in Colombia has repeatedly voiced its concerns over the delays, but without much response from the Colombian government. On Monday, the UN announced it would be providing refrigerators, lamps, and portable bathrooms for UN observers in all transitional zones due to the construction delays.
However, the international organization has insisted that it is committed to meeting the May 29 deadline. Yesterday, it announced it would be sending kits to ensure collected weapons were emptied of all ammunition.
At a press conference last week, General Javier Perez Aquino, one of the UN mission’s head coordinators, said, “The United Nations is in the position to maintain the 180 day timeline. We have the logistical and technical capacity to do so.”
In November, the FARC and Colombia’s government signed a peace agreement ending a decades-long armed conflict that has killed 260,000 and displaced millions.