The U.N. Mission in Colombia on Monday collected the first container of weapons owned by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, from former combat zones in accordance with the South American country’s peace process.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the collection during a forum in Bogota.
“Today is very special,” Santos said.
“The first container, the first group or volume of weapons of the veredales zones, is going out.”
The U.N. Mission, which began extraditing weapons from the Monterredondo region of the Cauca department, is slated to end the collection on Aug. 15. The institution also announced that unstable materials found in 26 former combat zones, such as anti-personnel devices, were incinerated and destroyed in their entirety.
According to a recent report by the U.N. Mission's head, General Javier Perez Aquino, 900,000 cartridges had been destroyed in 25 of the 26 military zones as well as ammunition and explosives from 304 caches of the 779 identified by FARC operatives.
The disarmament marks a major shift for Colombia’s FARC, with the Marxist-Leninist rebels now preparing to transition into a political entity after 52 years of armed struggle.
“It is already the definitive end of the conflict,” U.N. High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo said.
“The FARC as a military organization no longer exists, all its (members) are in civilian life.”
As part of the peace agreement, nearly 5,000 members of the FARC received bank accounts on Sunday to facilitate their reintegration into civilian life. According to the agreement, the government must provide a one-off payment of US$665 to each FARC guerrilla.