Colombia: Conflict parties must return to peace talks, lives must be respected
As attacks restart just hours after the ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and the ELN armed group expires overnight, it’s vital both sides show return to the negotiation table, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council. "The latest attacks demonstrate that peace negotiations must be accelerated to end this brutal conflict. It’s crucial that dialogue continues to de-escalate the fighting, so that thousands of people are no longer displaced from their homes and civilians killed,” warned NRC’s Country Director in Colombia Christian Visnes.
The Colombian Government and National Liberation Army (ELN) declared a historical ceasefire in October, pledging to stop carrying out attacks. However, after attacks were reported, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered his negotiating team with the ELN to return from Ecuador yesterday, and the army to continue fighting.
Today, over 7 million people are displaced because of conflict in Colombia. 2017 saw a stark deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Colombia. The number of people that fled their homes due to conflict increased by 32 per cent in the first 10 months of the year. ELN was reportedly responsible for 45 per cent of the total number of people forced to flee last year, according to the United Nations.
“The end of the longest-running conflict in the Americas is within reach. But the Government and ELN cannot claim success until negotiations are complete, civilians live in peace and social justice is restored in their territories,” said Christian.
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