Colombia, FARC agree to find thousands of missing people

Colombian government and FARC rebels reach deal to find thousands of missing people

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Cuba's President Raul Castro (C) stands as Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono shake hands in Havana, September 23, 2015.

Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels agreed on Saturday to work together to find thousands of people who went missing during the 50 years of internal conflict in the country, as their peace negotiations continue.

Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle on Sunday said "What was agreed yesterday looks to alleviate this pain - the profound pain of the families of the disappeared."

It’s estimated that at least 52,000 people have been disappeared during the conflict which started in 1964 and caused 220,000 deaths. 

Victim groups say the number of disappeared might be between 70,000 and 100,000.

The two sides agreed to create a “specialized unit to search for people who are considered disappeared,” according to a joint statement.

They both will give information on missing people and where unidentified victims have been buried.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Colombia's National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences will also be informed.

Head of Colombian ICRC Christoph Harnisch said they will “put all our experience toward supporting relatives, exhuming mortal remains in areas where the government cannot do it and by consulting with responsible institutions."

The government and FARC representatives have been negotiating peace talks since November 2012 in Cuban capital Havana.

The negotiators signed a deal on justice for crimes committed during the conflict which was the key issue restraining an agreement.

They have committed to reach the final peace deal by March 2016, which will then be put before Colombians for approval.

TRTWorld and agencies