Close to 5,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, received Sunday a bank account as a governmental initiative meant to facilitate their reintegration into civilian life.
“A total of 4,718 already have a debit card,” the manager of the Agrarian Bank of Colombia Luis Enrique Dussan told EFE.
The “Peace Accounts” have been opened at the Agrarian Bank of Colombia, created in 1999 in order to support the rural sector.
The guerrillas, who have now finished the process of disarmament, are still waiting in the 26 transition zones before they can fully return to a normal civilian life.
“With the opening of these accounts, these people will be able to receive state support as agreed in the peace accords,” said Dussan.
According to the agreement signed last November, the government must provide a one-off payment of US$665 to each FARC guerrilla.
In addition to this amount, they will receive 90 percent of the country's minimum salary — about US$250 per month — over a period of up to 24 months, or less if the guerrilla can find employment beforehand.
The bank accounts will be monitored closely, said Dussan, and initially will only be allowed to receive funds from the government.
Earlier this month, an exhaustive survey of over 10,000 FARC guerrillas in Colombia found that more than three-quarters have nowhere to live, making housing a top priority for future policies as they try to reintegrate into civilian life.
The study also revealed that most of the former fighters know how to read and write, but only 57 percent went to primary school, while 11 percent have had no education.
The FARC, the largest leftist guerrilla army in Colombia, handed in the last of its weapons to the United Nations at the end of June as part of the peace deal agreed with the government last November.
The disarmament marks a major milestone, with the rebels now preparing to transition into a political entity after 52 years of armed conflict.
But the path to peace still faces several obstacles. The group has criticized progress in key areas including the lack of resources at reintegration zones, as well as the spiraling number of activists murdered. Six FARC members have been killed since the peace agreements were signed in November.
The government's failure to recognize the growing presence of right-wing paramilitaries has also been listed as a major threat to the peace process in Colombia.