Colombia, ex-FARC rebels to improve housing, hold security talks

Hundreds of the former fighters who demobilised under a 2016 peace deal, recently marched to demand better security.

Former fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) participate in a protest called 'Pilgrimage for Life and Peace' demanding security guarantees and compliance with the peace agreements signed with the government, in Bogota, Colombia [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
Former fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) participate in a protest called 'Pilgrimage for Life and Peace' demanding security guarantees and compliance with the peace agreements signed with the government, in Bogota, Colombia [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

Colombia’s government and former rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have agreed to accelerate housing improvements and land purchases and to hold meetings aimed at improving the ex-fighters’ security.

Hundreds of the former fighters, who demobilised under a 2016 peace deal, recently marched to the capital, Bogota, to demand better security, among other requests. Some 236 former combatants have been murdered since the accord was signed.

Representatives of the marchers on Friday held a breakfast meeting with President Ivan Duque and Emilio Archila, the presidential adviser charged with overseeing implementation of the deal.

The government will speed up efforts to buy land in former demobilisation zones where many ex-fighters are still living, Archila said, as well as build or improve housing there.

Former FARC members protest in Bogota demanding security guarantees and compliance with the peace agreements signed with the government [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
Officials will also meet with ex-rebels at the sites to discuss how to improve security.

“They agreed … for us to go to the territories and make measures more sophisticated in agreement with the peculiarities of each region,” Archila said in a video interview.

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque in Bogota [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
The marchers’ representatives will also meet with the interior ministry and the agency charged with providing security for public figures, including high-profile ex-rebels, according to the former fighters’ spokeswoman Diana Viloria, better known by her nom de guerre, Laura Vega.

“We think this is a first act to strengthen the measures against stigmatisation,” she said in a joint news conference with Archila. “Here, we have agreed to accelerate the whole process of comprehensive reintegration.”

Archila added, “This is very good news for the process, this is very good news for the country,”

The United Nations has expressed concern about killings of former FARC members, some 13,000 of whom demobilised under the deal, ending the group’s role in five decades of conflict which has killed more than 260,000 people.

Duque said his government is committed to the deal and blamed former FARC members who rejected the agreement and other armed groups for the murders.

A man holds a flag reading ‘Peace’ during the funeral of Heine Collazos and Esneider Collazos, two of the six men killed by alleged members of an armed group in August [File: Luis Robayo/AFP]
Source : News Agencies

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