In the first ten months of 2017, over 1,200 attacks against the civilian population were registered, a 28% increase compared to the same time in 2016. ? These include homicides, assault, and kidnappings. In over 50% of cases, the perpetrator of the attacks is unknown. 14% of attacks are committed by post-demobilisation armed groups and 9% by the ELN. ? While the EPL is responsible for only 3% of attacks, the number of attacks perpetrated by the group increased over 350% compared with 2016. This is likely related to power struggles along the border with Venezuela. ? ? The departments most affected by attacks are Nariño, Norte de Santander, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, and Cauca. ?
In 2016, violent incidents decreased by 34% compared to 2015. This is largely due to the FARC not taking part in the armed conflict. However, the ELN, EPL, and post demobilisation armed groups' contribution to the violence increased significantly. Most of the violence occurred in Norte de Santander, Arauca, Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, and Nariño.?
The ELN regularly attacks state personnel, infrastructure, and clashes with other armed groups, notably in Arauca, Cesar, Antioquia, and Norte de Santander, despite the ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government.?? The ELN and the government held a three-month bilateral ceasefire from October to the beginning of January 2018. In the days immediately following the end of the ceasefire, the ELN conducted various attacks in Casanare, Arauca, and Boyacá departments in eastern Colombia. ?
Post-demobilisation armed groups
In September, a few days after one of the main figures of Los Urabeños was killed in a security operation, the group's leader "Otoniel" seemingly offered the surrender of Los Urabeños in a video circulated online. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that the government had received an offer of Los Urabeños' surrender, and stated that there would be no political negotiations with the group. ? Considering the predominant role of Los Urabeños in Colombia's illegal economies and the decentralised structure of the organisation, it is unlikely that all members would surrender even if the group's leadership turned itself in. ?
The FARC demobilisation has led to increased fighting between other armed groups, particularly in areas previously controlled by the FARC, as they seek to take control of the illegal economy. The Urabeños have almost doubled their territory since negotiations began between FARC and the government.?
Former FARC fighters in the process of demobilising are subject to violence. Between April and December 2017, 34 former FARC members and 13 family members of ex-FARC members were killed, with Nariño, Antioquia, and Cauca being the most affected departments. ? In January, two former FARC members were killed in Antioquia department while campaigning for a political candidate. ?
The FARC demobilisation has caused a split within the group, with some members refusing to demobilise and defecting or deserting.?The Urabeños reportedly are offering 1.8 million Colombian pesos to FARC dissidents in Antioquia, Bolívar, and Córdoba, in a move to take control of the FARC's drug trafficking and illegal mining operations.? While some FARC members never took part in the peace process, others deserted during the ongoing DDR process. ? The FARC dissidents currently remain in decentralised structures, with presence in the southwestern departments of Cauca and Nariño, in Chocó and Antioquia in the northwest, as well as in the departments of the Eastern Plains, and engage in drug trafficking activity and control of trade routes. ? ? ?The region of Guaviare is known to host one of the biggest FARC dissident groups, with an estimated 600 members. ?
The government is currently carrying out a coca eradication campaign and aims to eradicate 63,000 hectares of coca in 2018. ? The plan includes both voluntary substitution of coca crops and forced eradications by state forces. ?This is met with resistance by some farmers who live off coca production, notably near Tumaco in Nariño department and in Cauca department.? On 5 October, a protest of coca growers in El Tandil, a rural area of Tumaco, ended with eight people killed and 20 injured. The government initially blamed FARC dissidents for the deaths, but human rights organisations stated that members of the police had fired at the protesters. On 8 October, a humanitarian mission, which included representatives of the UN, was blocked from accessing the location of the protest. Members of the police allegedly fired gunshots and threw grenades at the mission, forcing them to withdraw. ? ? ? ? ? ?