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IOM Director General William Lacy Swing on September 26, 2016 took part in a historic ceremony in Cartagena marking the formal signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

With the signing of this agreement, Colombia brings an end to a 52-year-long internal armed conflict, considered to be the longest running in the Western hemisphere.

“We reaffirm our commitment to continue collaborating with the Government of Colombia in its efforts to put an end to decades of armed conflict, consolidate peace and provide reparations for victims of the violence,” said Ambassador Swing.

Currently, IOM is working with the government to prepare and launch a large-scale reintegration process. IOM is also supporting the government in its efforts to prevent new forms of recruitment of children and adolescents and prevent recidivism among adult ex-combatants.

It is a member of the Technical Committee for the release of child soldiers, established by the parties in the Havana peace negotiations. The committee is designing protocols, assistance programmes and immediate interventions to guarantee the rights of the children and provide them with comprehensive reparations and effective reintegration into their families and communities.

Leaders attending the historic event included President of Cuba, Raul Castro; President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto; President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales; and President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon; former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan; Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde; President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno; Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro; and President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, also took part.

During his visit to Colombia, Ambassador Swing met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and Canadian Ambassador to Colombia Donald Bobiash. Together with IOM Regional Director for South America Diego Beltrand and IOM Colombia Chief of Mission Alejandro Guidi, they visited the Cartagena Workshop School, where they met with victims of the conflict and heard their stories.