Amid reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had hired Colombian mercenaries in the fight against Houthis, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Saturday that the UAE will disburse $45 million in aid to his country.
Santos remarks came in a meeting on Saturday with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.
On Saturday, Santos started a two-day state visit to the UAE, in an effort to enhance the economic trade relations between the two countries.
The UAE fund, Santos said, aims at supporting the implementation of the peace agreement that was signed in 2016 between with the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end a half-century civil war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
“The UAE grant will finance the reconstruction of the residential areas that were affected by the clashes,” he explained.
The UAE, one of the major Middle Eastern countries that have provided aids to Colombia, will send a 40-people delegation to Colombia to carry out a study on investing in the infrastructure and agriculture sectors, Santos was quoted by Emirates News Agency (WAM).
Abu Dhabi was reported to have hired Colombian mercenaries in 2014 right after the presidential election in which Santos won a second term.
In October, Spain’s ABC agency reported that the UAE army, run by the US-based Blackwater Worldwide, has trained some15,000 mercenaries, mostly from Colombia and South America, to fight Qatar after they fought in Yemen.
In 2015, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Abu Dhabi had recruited about 300 Colombian soldiers and a special army of South American soldiers to fight on behalf of its army alongside with the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Houthis in Yemen.
International private security companies often hire Colombian soldiers to fight in the conflict zones, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.