Members of illegal armed groups in Colombia who have decided to lay down their arms increased by 20% between 2012 and 2013, according to Colombia’s Semana news magazine.
A total of 1,200 members of illegal armed groups began the process of reintegration into Colombian society in 2013.
This represents an increase of 20% over the previous year, according to Semana.
Alejandro Eder, head of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR) said, “If you look how many demobilization [processes] occurred in recent months and the last year, you will find a 20% increase; and additionally (…) 76% of those demobilized remain within the law.”
A wave of demobilization by armed groups has increased since peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, began in 2012.
However, the process of demobilization has been going on for 11 years, according to Semana.
Since then, the ACR has recorded approximately 56,000 demobilized fighters, of which about 31,600 belonged to paramilitary groups with the rest belonging to former members of the FARC and the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN.
Of the 1,200 demobilized in 2013, some 300 were minors, who spent an average of seven years in the service of illegal armed groups, according to Semana.
The reintegration process for demobilized fighters lasts an average of six and a half years, consisting of three phases, from academic training up until job implementation.
According to the ACR, small and medium-sized enterprises take up the bulk of demobilized combatants, employing 24,000 former fighters.