Colombia’s FARC rebels begin demobilization process

Bogota, Feb 1 (IANS) The FARC rebel group’s roughly 6,300 fighters are in the process of gathering in designated areas as a step toward laying down their arms and demobilizing, Colombia’s high commissioner for peace said on Tuesday.

“By today 4,329 FARC men will have entered the zones and we expect that between today and tomorrow the transfer of the approximately 2,000 remaining men will be completed,” Efe news quoted Sergio Jaramillo as saying.

He said that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) personnel will take part in construction of their own living quarters in the designated zones, known collectively as the ZVTN.

Individual fighters released from prison on pardons or under the Amnesty Law will have the option to join their comrades in the ZVTN, the commissioner said.

Non-combatant auxiliaries who formerly provided logistical support to the FARC are not entitled to residence in the ZVTN, but can still obtain access to “the benefits of reintegration,” Jaramillo said.

The demobilization process is laid out in the peace agreement signed in November by the FARC and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, putting an end to a 52-year-long war.

Delays in FARC fighters reaching the designated zones have been due to unexpected difficulties, ZVTN director Carlos Cordoba said, citing bad weather and instances where rebel units underestimated the number of vehicles they would need.