2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Colombia

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Date: 2015 Description: A HALO deminer undergoes field accreditation administered by the OAS at El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia.  © Photo courtesy of Grant Salisbury.

Colombia’s decades-long conflict with non-state armed groups like FARC and Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army) have left landmines and UXO contamination in all but one of Colombia’s 32 provinces. The Programa Presidencial para la Acción Integral Contra Minas Antipersonal (Presidential Program for Comprehensive Mine Action) received reports in 2013 of 2,672 incidents resulting from mines, improvised explosive devices, and UXO in mined or suspected hazardous areas or from military demining operations in 28 of 32 provinces. In 2013, Colombia incurred 368 casualties from UXO and landmines, down 26 percent from 2012 (497). This is a significant decrease from 2005 and 2006, when casualty rates peaked at roughly 1,200 per year. Since 1990, landmines and UXO have killed or injured more than 10,000 civilians and military personnel. The importance of demining will grow as Colombia seeks to return 64,749,702 square meters (25,468 square miles) of land to more than 360,000 families over a 10-year period through its unprecedented initiative, the Victims and Land Restitution Law. Coinciding with the recent political progress, Colombia plans to gradually increase its demining operational and equipment capacity using military and nongovernmental organizations.

From FY2001 through FY2014, the United States invested more than $37.7 million for CWD in Colombia to support humanitarian demining, rural victim assistance programs, and mine risk education. In FY2014, the U.S. government contributed more than $7.7 million for CWD in Colombia.

The Department of State supported the work of the following implementing partners:

• HALO deployed five operational teams and one survey team in southeast Antioquia.

• Organization of American States (OAS) continued support for 10 military humanitarian demining units and was provided additional funding for the development of three new military units by 2016.

• The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development continued supporting victim assistance in the Caldas and Nariño Municipalities of Antioquia in partnership with the coffee industry.

USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund continued to support capacity building for three physical rehabilitation units and to upgrade prosthetic and orthotic labs to comply with regulations associated with the Victims and Land Restitution Law, and funded World Vision to support physical rehabilitation programs and social inclusion.