Joint Press Release by The Episcopal Conference of Colombia and UN Verification Mission in Colombia
Bogotá, 8 November 2017. The UN Verification Mission in Colombia and the Episcopal Conference of Colombia highlight the first month of work of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) of the Temporary, Bilateral, and National ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The Mechanism serves to provide a space for dialogue and prevention of direct confrontations between the parties.
At the regional and local levels, the UN Mission has established 33 verification teams which are operational. The Mission, the Episcopal Conference, the Government of Colombia and the ELN are carrying out the agreed pedagogical actions.
The UN Mission and the Episcopal Conference would like to highlight the commitment of the parties in the Mechanism to ensure compliance with the protocols by suspending offensive actions and avoiding armed confrontations between the Security Forces and the ELN, one of the purposes of the agreed Ceasefire.
In several regions of Colombia, the humanitarian situation of the population has been positively impacted by the suspension of such actions while, in others, serious challenges remain to the safety of the communities that live in the zones of conflict, such as the incidents of violence that occurred in Tumaco in October in which several peasants were killed. Similarly, the situation in Chocó, where last 24 October the governor and indigenous leader Aulio Isarama Forastero was murdered, is of concern. The ELN recognized and asked for forgiveness for this murder. The National Coordination of the MVM qualified this action as "a violation of the rules and commitments" by the ELN.
For the UN Mission and the Episcopal Conference, the tense situations in rural areas of Catatumbo in Norte de Santander, north of Cauca, and Buenaventura in Valle del Cauca are alarming. Therefore, UN Mission and the Episcopal Conference call upon the parties to undertake all possible efforts to avoid incidents that put communities at risk.
The UN Verification Mission in Colombia and the Episcopal Conference of Colombia urge the parties to maintain their commitment and will to strengthen the work of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, contribute to its fundamental objective of improving the humanitarian situation of the population, and to renew their efforts to establish a new ceasefire once the deadline is met.