UN ‘highly concerned’ over number of ex-FARC member deaths since peace deal

By January 3, 2019

At least 85 members of Colombia’s FARC rebel group have been killed in the last two years according to the UN, raising concerns over the country’s current peace deal with the left-wing group.

Initially launched in a bid to fight the country’s inequality between rural and farming communities, subsequent conflict led to 50 years of bloody violence that saw 260,000 people killed and some seven million Colombians displaced. However, it was back in 2016 that the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) agreed to halt the conflict.

The outcome of the peace deal saw the militant group lower their arms and step into the political sphere as a legitimate political party. The agreement allowed FARC to hold ten congressional seats for the next eight years in government, however it has continued to be a heavily criticised agreement particularly by the country’s new president Ivan Duque.

Since taking the presidency, right-leaning President Duque has expressed hopes to hold former FARC rebels accountable for their crimes – as well as criticising that the guerillas haven’t fully disbanded – raising a question mark  over the future of the peace deal.

Despite being promised amnesty as well as efforts to reintegrate back into Colombian society, members claim there are little protections against violence.

The BBC recently detailed the report produced by UN chief Antonio Guterres, who pointed out as many as 14 ex-members had been killed between September and the end of 2018.

According to recent findings by the United Nations, organised crime groups are believed to be mainly responsible for the recent FARC killings, calling upon the government to enforce better protections for the now peaceful rebels.

Fingers have been pointed at the Gulf Clan narcotrafficking group, one of a number of cartels that have since been able to move into former FARC operated areas. Forming part of a number of splinter cartels that emerged following the country’s war on drugs, Colombian authorities struggle to entice rural farmers away from harvesting the lucrative coca plant.

Despite the peace deal, a number of rural areas have since seen other militants and drug traffickers take over the areas due to the absence of state control. As a result, although violence has been considerably reduced throughout Colombia, attacks against activists and human rights campaigners is not uncommon.

The result of ongoing killings against former FARC rebels has left the UN minister ‘highly concerned.’ In the last year, journalists within Colombia have also reported increased threats of violence and expressed fears of a ‘dangerous new atmosphere,’ according to The Guardian.

The United Nations have noted that reintegration remains considerably complex, as the country remains in a delicate balance of maintaining peace.