Violence threatens Colombian peace accords, UN warns

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The deteriorating security situation in Colombia represents a "considerable challenge" to the country's 2016 peace accords, the United Nations said Thursday at a Security Council meeting.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace deal with the government in 2016 to end more than a half century of armed conflict.

But in light of the "formidable threats" facing certain regions, the Colombian government and institutions "should make better use of the mechanisms created by the agreement itself," said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.

Among the mechanisms is the protection of former combatants who have laid down their arms, he said, noting that at least 296 of them have been killed by gangs and criminal organizations.

Though most of the FARC laid down their arms -- some 7,000 women and men -- there were active dissidents who have continued the violence in various regions.

Under no unified command, some 2,500 combatants did not accept the 2016 peace deal. They continue to operate illegally, getting funds from drug trafficking, illicit mining and extortion, according to Colombian intelligence.

Massieu noted that Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities are "disproportionately affected by all kinds of violence."

The violence also targets human rights defenders, he said, calling for a federal budgetary effort to fund the implementation of the peace agreements. Between 2017 and 2020, only 65 percent of the budget for compliance with the agreements has been spent, according to the UN.

Authorities must spare no effort to increase access to land and housing for former guerrillas, Massieu said, adding that land plays an "essential role" in consolidating the peace process.

Colombia's vice president and minister of foreign affairs, Marta Lucia Ramirez, said the government had spent $118 million, which has benefited the thousands of former guerillas who surrendered their weapons. Of that money, she said, $2 million was spent on the purchase of land.

In 60 years, the conflict in Colombia has claimed more than nine million victims, including dead, disappeared and displaced persons.