The United Nations and the Catholic Church on Wednesday urged Colombia’s government and ELN rebels to adopt measures to prevent violations of a bilateral ceasefire after guerrillas killed an indigenous governor.
The admitted murder in the western province of Choco was the most serious of attacks on civilians by guerrillas or security forces.
Colombia’s national police allegedly killed at least seven farmers in an attempt to eradicate coca in the southwest of the country where the ELN is active.
Both parties had vowed to refrain from acts that would affect the civilian population.
This was particularly necessary in Choco and the southwestern municipality of Tumaco, said the observers.
For the UN Mission and the Episcopal Conference, the tense situation in rural areas of Catatumbo in Norte de Santander, the north of Cauca and Buenaventura in Valle del Cauca is alarming. We call on the parties to make all possible efforts to avoid incidents that put communities at risk.
The United Nations has been monitoring efforts to make peace in Colombia since the beginning of a ceasefire between the FARC guerrilla group last year.
The international organization said it had 33 observation units spread over the country. The Catholic Church’ vast network of parishes also monitors both parties’ commitment to the ceasefire.
Both observing organizations called on the guerrillas and the state to “contribute to the fundamental purpose of improving the humanitarian situation of the population, and in turn strengthen the initiative with a deadline, establish a new ceasefire.”
The October 1 bilateral ceasefire is the first in the 53-year history of the ELN, a group of an estimated 1,500 fighters and a cult following in public universities among radicalized students.
Peace talks to end the armed conflict began in February.
The efforts to end the conflict are complicated by tensions between the guerrillas and rival armed groups like the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC, a.k.a. the Gulf Clan.
The armed groups are vying for territorial control, particularly in areas rich of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, or gold.