Switzerland has welcomed a temporary ceasefire agreement between the Colombian authorities and the National Liberation Army (ELN) - the largest active rebel group in the country. The deal was struck on Sunday, promising an end to hostilities until mid-January.
Switzerland is one of five states that form the ‘Group of Countries for the Support, Accompaniment and Cooperation of the Negotiating Table’ (GPAAC) that have been working for peace in the South American country. The other GPAAC members are Sweden, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Switzerland issued a statement, saying the group wanted to “congratulate the negotiating teams for this important achievement. They expect the ceasefire to improve especially the humanitarian situation of the civilian population.”
“For the regions of Colombia most affected by armed violence the ceasefire provides many opportunities, especially a broader participation in the peace process of all parts of society,” it added.
“GPAAC calls on both parties to strictly comply with the terms of the ceasefire, thus confirming their willingness to reach full and lasting peace in Colombia.”
The fighting between Colombian forces and various rebel groups has lasted more than 50 years, making it the longest civil war in Latin America. The bloodshed has displaced millions and killed an estimated 260,000 people.
Switzerland has also played a hand in negotiating a ceasefire between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). In September of last year, an original version of the Colombia peace agreement was handed to Bern for safekeeping.