Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia's Farc concludes weapons disarmament

President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and Jean Arnault, Head of UN in Colombia (CL) August 15 2017 Image copyright Presidency of Colombia
Image caption President Santos (L) and UN officials watched the last container depart from a demobilization camp

The last batch of weapons carried by Colombia's former Farc rebels has been removed under UN supervision.

Speaking at a camp in the north of country where the arms were loaded onto a lorry, President Juan Manuel Santos said this was the "last breath" of the 52-year conflict with the Farc.

The UN mission head Jean Arnault said a total of 17 containers of arms had been handed over over the past year.

About 7,000 rebels have demobilised and are to be reintegrated into society.

Weapons into monuments

The weapons were turned over by the rebels as they gathered to demobilize in so-called "transition zones" across Colombia.

The last container left the Pondores "transition zone" in remote La Guajira province. They will be smelted down and made into three monuments to be installed in Bogotá, Havana and New York.

The Farc has also given the United Nations the location of hundreds of their arms caches, some of them in remote jungle locations.

Some have already been emptied by UN monitors but others have proven hard to reach.

The United Nations has a mandate until 1 September to retrieve the weapons from their caches, after that date, it will be responsibility of the Colombian security forces to do so.

Mr Santos said the armed forces would be redeployed to areas vacated by the Farc, and the government would provide security, infrastructure, and medical support there.

He said that Colombian state was "committed to the safety of ex-combatants and communities in the zones that endured the armed conflict".

Under the peace accord reached last November, the Farc will be allowed 10 unelected seats in Congress until 2026 and amnesty will be given to many ex-fighters.

Those former rebels who are convicted in special courts of human rights violations will serve short sentences and perform community services, such as removing landmines.

The BBC's Natalio Cosoy in Bogota says the peace with the Farc has brought a dramatic drop in violence in many areas of Colombia.

But for the country to achieve total peace, the government will have to either reach agreements with or defeat smaller armed groups still active in the country, our correspondent adds.

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