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Colombian Rebels Confirm They Will Pay Reparations to Victims

Colombia's FARC rebels have said they would pay reparations to victims of the country's long war under a recent peace accord.

Until now, the guerrillas had said they did not have money to pay damages because everything went to their war effort.

And critics of the peace accord, signed Monday by the leftist rebels and the government after nearly four years of negotiations, have argued that the guerrillas would not pay damages even if they had funds to do so.

The Colombian people will vote on the accord Sunday in a referendum.

In a statement, the FARC said that in line with the terms of the peace agreement "we will pay material reparations to victims."

The FARC said they would report to the government "the monetary and non-monetary resources" that have funded their war effort.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter that "as a result of the agreement, the FARC pledge to hand over resources to pay reparations to victims."

The assets will be reported during a 180 day period the rebels have to disarm.

Carlos Alfonso Velasquez, an analyst who specializes in the Colombian conflict, said the rebel announcement was aimed at critics who argued the group would not surrender money it made from drug trafficking.

He said the rebels in the past have made a lot of money off that but do not have significant cash now because of all they had to spend on buying weapons and taking care of their soldiers.

The amount of reparations they pay "remains to be seen but this is a step in the right direction to end the conflict," Velasquez told AFP.

The peace accord will effectively end what is seen as the last major armed conflict in the Americas. The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

It calls for the rebels to disarm after the plebiscite and convert into a political group.

The FARC launched its guerrilla war on the Colombian government in 1964, after an uprising by farmers demanding land was crushed by the army.

Over the decades, the ideological and territorial conflict drew in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

Colombian authorities estimate the conflict has left 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and nearly seven million displaced in a country of 47 million.

Source: Agence France Presse


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