Colombia and FARC sign historic ceasefire agreement

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The Colombian government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels have signed a historic ceasefire and disarmament agreement ending 50 years of conflict that left 220,000 people dead and displaced millions.

The ceasefire agreement was signed in presence of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon at a ceremony held in Havana, Cuba.The ceasefire and disarmament agreement is a final step in peace negotiations which have been going on since 2012.

About the Colombian conflict :

The Colombian conflict that started in the 1960s as a rural uprising for land rights is a low-intensity asymmetric war between the Colombian government, paramilitary groups, crime syndicates and left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN), fighting each other to increase their influence in Colombian territory.

The conflict has left 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and nearly seven million displaced, according to official figures. Human rights groups say atrocities have been committed on all sides. Many families are still searching for missing loved ones.

FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia):

  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc, after the initials in Spanish) are Colombia's largest rebel group.
  • The main enemy of the Farc have been the Colombian security forces. Farc fighters have attacked police stations and military posts, and ambushed patrols.
  • They have been hit hard by the Colombian security forces over the past years.

Under the agreement

  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) must hand over its weapons to United Nations monitors within six months.
  • The FARC’s members an estimated 7,000 or so  will gather in “normalisation zones” for a demobilisation process.
  • The sides also agreed to government action against “criminal organizations” blamed for fueling the conflict.
  • The deal also includes security guarantees for the FARC during its transition to a peaceful political party.

However it should be noted that the peace deal won't immediately make Colombia a safer place. The cocaine trade remains a powerful magnet for criminal gangs operating throughout the country's remote valleys and jungles. And the National Liberation Army, a much smaller and more rebellious armed group, has not yet begun peace talks with the government.

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