Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speak to media in Saguenay Quebec on Aug. 26, 2016. (Photo: Jacques Boissinot/CP)Sources say Canadian officials have been in contact with the UN looking for more information about the observer mission in Colombia, including potential security hazards.
Unarmed UN observers heading to countryColombians will then vote on the agreement in a plebiscite on Oct. 2. If all goes as expected, the United Nations will begin deploying 450 unarmed observers to around 40 locations around Colombia soon after to begin monitoring implementation of the agreement.
Colombian mission not without risksBut the Colombian mission isn't without its risks. The peace deal does not include a smaller guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN. Organized crime groups also continue to operate within the country. In an interview, Colombian ambassador Nicolas Lloreda praised the strong ties that have developed between the two countries in recent years, including a free trade agreement, close collaboration at the UN and millions of dollars in Canadian aid. On Sunday, Canada pledged an additional $33.8 million to help demining and reconstruction efforts in the country. But Lloreda said any decision on a Canadian observer mission rests with the Liberal government and the UN.
'Excellent relationship with Canada'"We have an excellent relationship with Canada in every aspect," he said. "But we've decided that the best thing is to go through the United Nations at this point and it should be up to the UN to decide who has the capability and which country really brings something positive to the table." The peace deal is the result of four years of talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas. It comes after 52 years of fierce fighting between the government and Marxist group which has left an estimated 220,000 people dead and millions more displaced. Many have welcomed the deal as a historic breakthrough to end the longest conflict in the Americas. But the agreement has also proven to be controversial, with concerns that perpetrators of mass atrocities and serious crimes on both sides will escape without any repercussions.
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