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UN concerned about violence against peasants and ex-combatants

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UN concerned about violence against peasants and ex-combatants

The head of the UN mission for the verification of the Peace Accords in Colombia expressed his concern before the Security Council this Wednesday about the increase in violence against ex-combatants who laid down their arms within the framework of said pacts and peasant leaders.

“The persistent violence against ex-combatants is worrying,” said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, representative of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for the verification of said agreements. Five have been killed in the last few days alone, he recalled.

Violence also affects peasant leaders and land applicants “as the application of rural reform progresses,” he warned and recalled the “obstacles” against government officials working on it.

After urging the government to “do much more to protect” these groups, Ruiz Massieu asked it to fulfill its promise to appoint a senior official to oversee the application of the Final Peace Agreement, signed in 2016.

Likewise, he praised the approach taken by the government of Gustavo Petro, committed to “total peace” that focuses on “sustainability, community-based reintegration, emphasizing reconciliation, access to land and empowerment of women and gender issues.

In this quarterly session, which included the participation of Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán and the leader of civil society Diana Salcedo, the Security Council analyzed the report that Guterres presents every three months with the progress of the implementation of the agreements and the concerns from the ONU.

“We want to win peace!” said Foreign Minister Leyva, who acknowledged: “We need to reduce the rates of violence in the country and the violent dynamics in the territories.”

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In a letter sent on February 14, Leyva informed the Security Council of the Petro government’s efforts for dialogue with five armed groups and indicated the government’s intention to request verification of these processes by the UN.

After asking the Secretary General for recommendations for this eventual request, in a letter dated June 13, Guterres proposes two options to expand the verification mission in the country, currently made up of 120 observers.

One of the options is for the mission to participate in monitoring and verifying the ceasefires decreed by the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the dissident group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (EMC Farc-EP), which would require 95 more observers.

The other is for the mission to participate in monitoring the truces with all the groups identified by the government, which would require an additional 130 observers.

Said expansion will have to be authorized by the Security Council, which in principle should not be difficult, in an international community that is firmly committed to peace in Colombia.

China, which had expressed doubts in previous negotiations to extend the mission’s mandate, came out in favor on Wednesday. “We believe it will help consolidate the positive momentum” of the current peace negotiations, she said.

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