Priest says ELN should release hostages before Christmas

A humanitarian commission, which is headed up by a Catholic priest and is negotiating the release of a group of tourists being held by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Columbia, will meet with one of the group's leaders, Antonio García, to iron out details for the release of the tourists in the mountains region of Santa Marta.

Fr. Dario Echeverry said the government has met one of the requirements of ELN for the release of the hostages, because “it has shown the best of intentions in resolving the humanitarian problems in the region of Santa Marta that have been independently confirmed by third parties.  The ELN had requested an analysis of the human rights crisis in the area as a condition for releasing the five hostages.

The report recommends that the State protect the right to education and the health of the population in the region, and asks that the civil populations cease being the target of attacks by the ELN.

“If this goes forward I believe the release of the hostages will take place before Christmas, just as the ELN has promised,” said Fr. Echeverry.

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