The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs co-sponsored the Colombia Humanitarian Demining Planning Workshop in Bogota, Colombia from June 9-12.
Working with the Colombian military and Colombia’s Presidential Program for Comprehensive Actions Against Anti-Personnel Mines (PPAICMA), PM/WRA designed a workshop to engage military demining operators and civilian oversight agencies to develop a strategic plan for the expansion of humanitarian mine action in Colombia.
In his address to workshop participants, Vice President of Colombia Francisco Santos Calderón attested to his government’s commitment to eliminate mines in Colombia, emphasizing the need to plan with a good understanding of the security conditions involved. Other key Colombian participants included the Inspector General of the Military Forces, Major General Julio Armando Guzmán Río, and the Director of PPAICMA, Andrés Dávila Ladrón de Guevara.
Both Colombian and international experts in humanitarian mine action made presentations during the workshop, and participants analyzed Colombia’s demining situation and future challenges that may arise. Opportunities to implement demining in insecure environments and community liaison concepts also were discussed. Participants then worked in separate groups to identify challenges to the demining process and a framework for addressing those issues in the context of an overall strategic plan. Experts from the Department of State helped to guide this process while working to create stronger cooperation between U.S. and Colombian partners.
This workshop was just one part of PM/WRA’s contribution to humanitarian demining in Colombia. In FY2008, PM/WRA initiated a new partnership with the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines for mine risk-education, focusing on youth awareness in 13 municipalities. Additionally, PM/WRA continued its support of two Emergency Response Teams through the Organization of American States. PM/WRA also supports Centro Integral de Rehabilitacion de Colombia civilian survivor assistance projects to assist mine victims in the most rural regions of Colombia.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement seeks to help countries around the world reduce the risk of mines and other explosive remnants of war to civilian populations. For more information about PM/WRA’s commitment to this goal please visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.