Colombia to receive $55 million for peace from UN multi-donor fund

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - A United Nations multi-donor fund will donate a record $55 million to help establish peace in Colombia in 2023, with programs focused on rural reform, protecting social leaders, and supporting conflict victims, officials and ambassadors said on Wednesday.

The fund, established in 2016 to support the peace agreement signed between the Colombian State with the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, has invested $181 million dollars so far.

Countries supporting the fund include Norway, Chile, South Korea and Britain, among others.

"From the United Nations and with the support of all these countries, we will remain committed to Colombians to support them on the road to peace, with building truth and the search for reconciliation," UN resident coordinator in Colombia Mireia Villar Forner said in a press conference.

Colombia's leftist President Gustavo Petro has pledged to fully implement the peace accord which ended the FARC's involvement in the country's internal armed conflict, which has run for nearly six decades and saw at least 450,000 killed between 1985 and 2018 alone.

Although some 13,000 FARC members laid down their arms to return to civilian life and form a political party, some FARC factions did not accept the agreement, while others later returned to arms, alleging that terms of the peace deal were not met.

Petro, himself a former member of the demobilized M-19 guerrilla movement, wants to establish total peace in Colombia, including with the dissident FARC groups and guerrillas of the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), as well as with criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking, such as the Clan del Golfo.

The resources will be invested effectively and transparently, said Colombia's high commissioner for peace, Danilo Rueda.

Colombia's budget for 2023 is set at 405.6 trillion pesos ($84.6 billion) and will see a marked emphasis on social projects aimed at establishing peace, said Mauricio Lizcano, the director of the presidency's administrative department.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Marguerita Choy)