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Statement: António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Colombia's Peace Talks

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Statement: António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Colombia's Peace Talks

11 June 2015

I am concerned at the recent armed clashes amidst the ongoing peace talks in Colombia. After decades of unrest, millions of displaced persons in Colombia have longed for peace, pinning hopes on a negotiated settlement. These latest incidents have the potential to derail the long sought peace process, increasing risks for the civilian population.

Any disruptions in the peace process could jeopardize its chances of arriving at a positive outcome. I encourage both parties to move forward with negotiations and hope that the talks that have been taking place in Havana since 2012 will soon result in a peace agreement.

Protecting the civilian population from the consequences of conflict is critical to end the loss of human lives. I welcome the recent agreements that aim to establish a truth and justice commission, stop child recruitment and start demining activities in Colombia's Department of Antioquia. These steps open the doors to finding solutions for displaced populations.

Progress on key aspects of the negotiation agenda, the agreements reached so far and the participation of victims in the talks are significant achievements that can make the difference between war and peace.

These steps represent hope and help alleviate the suffering of Colombian refugees and internally displaced people, enabling them to restart their lives in their places of origin, integrate with host communities, or safely relocate to other parts of the country. Solutions should be found in a way that guarantees the safety and dignity of refugees and people displaced inside Colombia.

I am confident that the rights of displaced people and refugees will be duly considered in the dialogue. UNHCR remains ready to support the process in light of its experience with similar mechanisms in different parts of the world.

I firmly hope that the ongoing negotiations will soon lead to a historic opportunity for the country to overcome adversity. UNHCR stands by the people of Colombia in their quest to achieve a lasting peace.