Humanitarian Disarmament in Colombia
According to The Landmine Cluster Munition Monitor, and compared to 2017, the number of casualties in Colombia increased significantly in 2018. The trend for 2019 is also concerning. As of March of 2019, according to national authorities, there has been eight victims from mine explosion. Which means that, on average, one person is stepping on a mine every 15 days.
The contamination in Colombia results from decades of conflict with non-state armed groups ( NSAG ), which has led to a huge displacement of persons. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered more than 7 million Internally Displaced Persons ( IDP ), accounting for almost 15% of the country’s total population.
Moreover, despite the peace agreement signed between the Colombian Government and FARC, ongoing conflict between the State and other NSAG remains an obstacle to conduct humanitarian demining.
Prior to the signing of peace agreement between the Government and FARC-EP, between January 2015 to November 2016, Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) was involved in a historic pilot project to clear Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Unexploded Ordnance (UXOs), and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) in two previously inaccessible areas of Colombia. The Demining Pilot project was the first tangible result to come out of the peace negotiations in Havana, and it undeniably played a part in the signing of the final agreement. NPA coordinated a team consisting of representatives of the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP, a first-of-its-kind collaboration, and the first showcase of the parties working together for the benefit of the civilian population.
Simultaneously, NPA HD established itself fully in Colombia, working in several high impact department of Colombia with its demining toolbox; consisting of Mine Detection Dogs, Manual Deminers, and Demining Machines. This makes NPA the only civilian operator in Colombia to use the entire Land Release Toolbox.
Additionally, NPA has supported the National Mine Action Authorities on the development of national standards, and on Information Management. NPA also supports and collaborates closely with the Humanitarian Demining Brigade providing training of Mine Detection Dogs, and with the FARC demining organization, Humanicemos, providing training, experience and accreditation to its members. Currently, Humanicemos is the most advanced reintegration project taking place in Colombia. Finally, NPA collaborates closely with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the field so that the NRC can provide educational support in the areas which NPA has cleared and released back to the local community.
Mine Ban Treaty (MBT): state party; clearance deadline: 1 March 2021
Convention on Cluster Munition (CCM) : state party; clearance, destruction and risk education deadline:1 March 2026
According to The Landmine Cluster Munition Monitor, and compared to 2017, the number of casualties increased significantly in 2018, counting 100 victims. The majority of such casualties were civilians.
As of March of 2019, according to national authorities, there has been eight victims from mine explosion. Which means that, on average, one person is stepping on a mine every 15 days.
It is believed that landmines in Colombia are dispersed throughout 28 of the country’s 32 departments (states); and all of those anti-personal mines are artisanal, which poses a bigger challenge in the process of finding and clearing them.
A coordinated mine action response is extremely important for a successful transition into post conflict, among others to allow for the internally displaced (over 7 million registered) to return to their homes and undertake gainful employment.
Despite grim statistics, things are moving in the right direction as Colombia counts with 10 accredited humanitarian demining operators.
Norwegian People's Aid's partners in Colombia work with Indigenous rights, land distribution and marginalized groups.