Since the mass mobilization of FARC combatants started two weeks ago to reach 26 “Transitional Zones” across Colombia, the government has confirmed that ninety-four percent of the 6,300-strong guerrilla, have arrived at their assigned camps to begin their demobilization and return to civilian life.
Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, released the official numbers during a press conference in Bogotá, Monday, on the movement of the Marxist rebels, and that show that 5,784 have entered the camps to begin the hand-over of weapons to the United Nations before the May 31 deadline.
The operation to receive FARC combatants includes on site medical brigades to attend to the health needs of combatants, coordinating river and ground transportation, and securing the Transitional Zones so that the guerrilla have the safety guarantees as set out in the final peace accord signed last November.
An original deadline of January 31 for FARC to be in their concentration zones had to be extended as the government needed more time to guarantee adequate housing, power, water and sanitation facilities in remote areas of the country.
According to Jaramillo, the government has achieved 34 of the planned 36 operations to facilitate the movement of FARC across a country, known for its difficult and varied terrain. For many combatants this so-called “long march” has taken days to complete, moving through jungle terrain on foot, in canoes, and in chartered buses. Currently operations are still underway in Caño Indio (Norte de Santander) and Montañita (Caquetá).
On Monday, the last of 400 guerrillas were expected to arrive at a rural camp near Icononzo (Tolima). Also expected early this week are the 500 combatants from the 33rd “Aurelio Rodríguez” front in the Magdalena Medio region of central Colombia.
The movement of FARC has been supervised by team of 600 international observers under the tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) agreed upon by the guerrilla, government and United Nations mission in Colombia. According to Jaramillo, 13,900 members of the country’s security forces were involved in the operations to help their former adversaries reach their safe havens, after a 52-year long conflict that claimed the lives of 260,000 and displaced some seven million.