"Not impossible" to fully disarm Colombian rebels "by June"

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Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia Jean Arnault. Photo: UNIC Bogotá (file photo)

It's "not impossible" that the disarmament process which is central to Colombia's historic peace deal could be complete "by June".

That's the view of the Head of the UN Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, briefing the Security Council on Wednesday.

Matthew Wells has the details.

Mr Arnault acknowledged that it had proved impossible to reach what he called "the first benchmark of the ceasefire timeline" by 1 January.

FARC fighters were supposed to have gathered in special demobilization zones by then under UN supervision, but only a third of the camp are ready, with a further third under construction, said Mr Arnault.

The conflict between government and rebel forces lasted for more than 50 years, and cost more than 260,000 lives, before a revised peace deal with FARC was reached last November.

Mr Arnault added that another deadline for the end of this month to destroy all rebel weaponry and ammunition would also not be reached, but he was optimistic that the parties were moving as fast as possible towards a lasting peace.

"We share the perception that an overly protracted process and a loss of momentum would not be in anybody's interests, fast tracking the ceasefire process alongside fast tracking of the legislative agenda makes sense. With determination on all sides, it's not impossible to accomplish that objective."

Mr Arnault said that 350 of the 450-strong UN observer team to monitor ceasefire arrangements was now in place across Colombia, which included a higher number of women than any other UN observer mission he said.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’14″

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