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Marching towards peace, FARC-EP begins turning in arms - UN Mission in Colombia

2 February 2017 – More than 200 men and women of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) marched today to demobilization camps, two months after a peace deal that ended the Western Hemisphere's longest running conflict, United Nations monitors coordinating the process reported.

The UN Mission in Colombia reported that the Transitional Point of Normalization of Pondores, department of La Guajira, in northern Colombia, according to figures from tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, composed of the Government, the FARC-EP and coordinated by the UN Mission.

Members of the FARC-EP – some of them pregnant or breastfeeding – walked about nine kilometres from four pre-grouping points near to the Pondores transitional point, where the FARC-EP camp will be located and where the separation of forces will take place, a task which the UN Mission will verify.

"As a UN Mission, this moment is crucial because it means we will continue to verify the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities through our participation in the Tripartite Mechanism, and we will be able to begin the operational part of the verification of the laying down of arms," explained the Deputy Head of Observers of the Mission, José Mauricio Villacorta.

According to the Mission, the women and men marching today join more than 6,300 FARC-EP members who began mobilizing on Saturday, 28 January, to zones and points using 36 travel routes in 14 departments of the country, according to preliminary figures from the Colombian Government's High Commissioner for Peace, on one of the country's largest logistics operations.

FARC-EP members were received today at the Pondores site by High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo, FARC-EP leader Ivan Márquez, Colombian authorities and Mr. Mauricio Villacorta, in a symbolic act to highlight the parties' commitment and the imminent start of the laying down of arms, which the UN Mission will verify, to enable the transition to civilian life.

"This shows that we are bringing the agreement to reality," said Mr. Jaramillo, who added: "This is a moment of joy."

Iván Márquez, who headed the FARC-EP negotiating team in Havana, Cuba, where four years of negotiations on the eventual peace accord took place, stated: "Something good is happening in Colombia: it's peace […] This peace is irrepressible, unstoppable; let us go forward."

"To date, we have focused on the planning and preparation phase so that the Mission can carry out the tasks of registering and storing weapons," said Mr. Mauricio Villacorta.

Once FARC-EP members are in the camps the first step for the laying down of arms is the registration of arms and weapons. Unstable armaments – such as gunpowder, grenades and anti-personnel mines – will be destroyed in site. After 180 days, the UN Mission in Colombia is set to remove all the weapons from the camp.

In early October 2016, Colombian voters narrowly rejected the historic peace accord between the Government and the FARC-EP. That deal led to a cessation of hostilities and agreements on key issues such as political participation, land rights, illicit drugs and victims' rights and transitional justice. The two sides signed a new agreement in late November.

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