On 23 June 2016, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC for its initials in Spanish, signed a peace agreement ending a 52 year-long war, one of the longest running wars in the modern era. FARC guerrilla fighters will begin laying down their arms in a coordinated process working with the Colombian government.
The FARC are one of the largest armed groups in Colombia, but certainly not the only one. Various armed groups remain active in Colombia and are actively engaged in extortion, violence, kidnapping, and other forms of violence against Colombians. The main targets have been women, Afro-Colombians, indigenous groups, and civil society leaders. The peace agreement with the FARC means that one of the largest of these groups will engage in the path to peace, which has encouraged the National Liberation Army, or ELN, to begin its own peace process with the Colombian government.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the conflict has left more than 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and has produced around 400,000 refugees. These displacement levels are highest in the Western Hemisphere and the amount of IDPs are the second highest worldwide after Syria. The prospects for Colombian refugees and internally displaced to return home has never seemed greater than the current moment, however the road to a durable, lasting peace has just begun to be made.
ECDC encourages continued efforts of both the Colombian government and the FARC to effect a lasting peace with justice and dignity for the victims of this conflict and carries the hope that someday soon the final brick may be laid on that path to peace.
Recommended reading: THROWING STONES AT THE MOON: NARRATIVES FROM COLOMBIANS DISPLACED BY VIOLENCE edited by Sibylla Brodzinsky and Max Schoening with a Foreword by Ingrid Betancourt.