The United Nations (UN) is investigating more of its observers in Colombia following the emergence of new footage and images showing representatives from the world body partying with members of a rebel group, a UN source says.
It was still unclear how many observers had been involved in the New Year’s Eve party with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, but the UN was investigating more images and previously unseen footage, the source said on Saturday.
“It is under investigation. And the UN mission in Colombia will take whatever steps may be necessary. We are totally committed to being impartial,” the source added.
The news came two days after the UN sacked four members of its Colombian peace process mission for participating at the party, which was perceived as being in violation of the principle of impartiality by the UN staff.
UN monitors are currently overseeing the leftist rebels’ disarmament under a peace deal signed between the FARC and the Colombian government to end a long-running conflict.
Controversy erupted Thursday after Colombian media showed video clips of UN observers in their blue uniforms dancing with FARC rebels at a camp in northern Colombia, where the rebels are supposed to turn in their weapons.
In response, the UN announced that it “separated” four of its observers from the mission over their “inappropriate” behavior, which “does not reflect the mission’s values of professionalism and impartiality.”
Based on the peace deal reached in November 2016 and passed by Colombia’s congress in late December 2016, 5,700 FARC fighters are due to demobilize over a period of six months. At present, 280 UN monitors are observing the process and the number of the observers is planned to rise to 450.
The civil conflict in Colombia, which ended as a result of the peace deal, has claimed the lives of at least 260,000 people, left some 60,000 missing and displaced seven million others, according to official figures.