Nascent Peace in Colombia

In the recent visit of Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb to a zone where ex combantants of the FARC are reintegrating into civilian life, he witnessed the hopes and challenges faced by the peace process in Colombia.

While Rotterdam’s Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and the Dutch Ambassador to Colombia Jeroen Roodenburg spoke with former combatants of the FARC guerrilla group, babies and toddlers were playing and crawling all around the place.

This happened on Saturday the 28th of September near Anori, a remote municipality in the Colombian mountains. The Dutch delegation arrived there after a 45-minute helicopter flight facilitated by the UN.

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In 2016, following the historic Colombian Peace Agreement, 13.000 men and women of the FARC decided to leave the jungle and lay down their weapons. Many of them have since lived in special zones created by the government, where they are provided safety and support to build up a normal, civilian life. Over the past few years, more than 2.500 children have been born in these special zones. Their parents hope for a peaceful future for them and are working to successfully reintegrate in a society that survived more than 50 years of war.

Aboutaleb and the former guerrilleros talked about ambitions and hopes for the future. The conversation was interrupted by a tired baby; he was crying and asking for his mother’s cuddles while she was talking about her decision to hand over the weapons, get a job and have a family. Two police officers sitting by her side lovingly took the baby from her arms and calmed him. This fact alone is already a success of the peace process in Colombia, where the FARC attacked police stations, kidnapped and killed many police officers during decades.

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The implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia advances, supported by many countries, the UN and the OAS. But the process is still fragile, facing huge financial and logistic challenges and under constant threat by illegal armed groups and hawkish politicians.

Nascent peace needs to be protected. Just like the baby, vulnerable today and yet capable of so many great accomplishments tomorrow if he gets the attention he requires.

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