A delegation from the United Nations (UN) will continue meeting with victims from Colombia’s armed conflict to brainstorm proposals for ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group, the country’s oldest, national media reported on Wednesday.
Hosted by members of Colombia’s National University and the UN, the second regional victims’ forum will take place Thursday in Barrancabermeja, a city in the northern state of Santander and one of the hardest-hit epicenters of Colombia’s longstanding armed conflict, according to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.
The forum will provide victims with the chance to discuss their experiences and issues they continue to face in their struggles to deal with the spillover of the 50-year war between leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries, and the Colombian state.
Following two days of discussion, final proposals will then be brought to the negotiating table of the ongoing FARC peace talks in Havana, Cuba, set to recommence next Tuesday, July 15.
The Barrancabermeja forum is the second of three regional discussions the UN is holding in Colombia. Last week, victims met in Villavicencio, in the eastern state of Meta, with a final meeting scheduled to take place in Barranquilla, on the northern Caribbean coast, from July 17-18. The UN will conclude its victims calendar with a national forum in Cali from August 6-7.
Although peace talks will resume next week, the proposals that emerge from these forums will not enter the negotiation table until September.
The issue of victims is one of the most sensitive in the peace talks. The armed conflict has left over 220,000 dead, 25,000 missing, and 5.7 million people displaced, and with an eventual agreement set to be placed to a voter referendum, addressing the concerns of victims will be a crucial step toward ensuring the lasting success of the peace process.
Peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government have been ongoing since November 2012. So far, both parties have come to agreements on the topics of agrarian land reform, political participation, and illicit drugs.
Barrancabermeja, an oil port town on the Magdalena River, was the scene of a gruesome paramilitary raid that spread terror throughout the region between 2000 and 2001.
The surrounding area has been mired in violence for years, as guerrilla and paramilitary groups clash, resulting in massacres and gross violations of human rights, according to El Espectador.
- ONU se reunira con las victimas de las Farc (El Espectador)