Updated 09:10 AM EST, Wed, Feb 21, 2018

Colombia Government Seeks to Help FARC Rebels Become Law-Abiding Civilians?

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Colombia's government is currently finalizing a historic peace accord with the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC. Although this is a move for peace, The Washington Post noted that this move will also set in motion a logistical complexity.

The immediate challenge: to persuade more that 6,000 of the rebel armed fighters to come down from the mountains, hand over their weapons, and start their lives as law-abiding civilians. Failing to do so will have Colombia in chaos, as most of the guerrilla members have been at war since they were 14 or 15 and some of them have been left illiterate. With their previous work experience, the most they can hope for is to be recruits for drug traffickers and criminal gangs -- not exactly what the government had in mind when they said "law-abiding."

To avoid this problem, the Colombian government and FARC have agreed to go through a process known as demobilization, disarmament, and rehabilitation that should begin within 60 days from the peace deal.

How the DDR could happen is another matter altogether, as it remains to be the last major point for the two sides in their attempt to stop the bloodshed that has wracked Colombia for the past 50 years, leaving some 220,000 people killed in their wake, as noted by BBC.

The rebel commanders are insistent that they will not give up their guns unless they are given assurance that the government will protect them from their enemies, including paramilitary groups, drug-cartel assassins and others who might view their disarmament as an opportunity to get revenge. For the rebels, this is a big leap of faith, as they will be required to view Colombian soldiers, from one day to the next, as their trusted protectors instead of their enemies.

In an interview, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon said that the government wanted the rebels to leave their camps and instead set up housing, medical care, counseling and other services in secure areas. FARC fighters would not even have to surrender their weapons to the Colombian troops -- but instead hand them over to a third party, for instance, a UN group.

The government and the left-wing group have been engaged in peace talks for nearly three years now -- it was launched in the Cuban capital, Havana in November 2012. However, BBC noted that both sides are expecting to sign their agreement by March 2016. For now, they are still working on a number of issues as well as the implementation of the agreement.

A final deal is said to have to be approved by Colombian citizens in a referendum.

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