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Bringing together ex-combatants and civil society, one letter at a time

Leonardo Párraga

While the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security was ratified in December 2015, its local implementation in Colombia still lacks concrete actions and sufficient spaces for the youth to participate. With 2.613.885 young people being victims of the armed conflict, their seats at the table do not hold the same proportion. So the youth started to act to be visible and influence the development of the peace process.

It has been more than 4 months since the campaign of Letters for the Reconciliation started as a way to bridge the social divide between people living in the cities and ex-combatants from the FARC, generating a space for dialogue, understanding and getting to know one another. From a group of two young people, it quickly expanded to over 100 volunteers in the main cities of the country.  The results are already visible. More than 3,000 people citizens have joined the initiative writing their welcoming letters, including Colombia’s Chief Peace Negotiator, Humberto de la Calle and Jose Mujica, ex-combatant and former president of Uruguay; 765 of them have been delivered directly to two of the encampments from FARC, obtaining more than 200 replied letters. It shows how young people have fresh ideas and can play a relevant role in peacebuilding and should have more formal spaces to do it. But beyond the figures, the testimonials provide a glimpse in the magnitude of the change of mindset generated.  

Hi, I am a victim of the armed conflict. My father was killed in the Santander de Quilichao massacre. Crying his death is not bringing him back to life, but I do want to tell you that I forgive you because it does not help at all to hold bad feelings. Today I start to be a new girl. I support your new path and please do not ever harm us again. THANKS. I feel clean and new now.  D. Gonzalez Nunez

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