The HALO Trust, the first and largest civilian humanitarian demining organization in Colombia, applauds the “End of Conflict” agreement reached today between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP, including its bilateral ceasefire.
The agreement paves the way for the clearance of landmines to be accelerated and, once land is made safe, for more people displaced by the conflict to return.
The conflict displaced an estimated seven million people and there have been over 11,000 mine victims in Colombia since 1990. Colombia ranked as the second most mine-affected country in the world in 2014 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) accounting for 286 of the 3,678 mine victims recorded.
HALO employs more than 250 Colombian staff in the departments of Antioquia, Meta and Tolima and we have the capacity to operate in eleven more municipalities of the forty-four prioritized by the National Demining Authority for rapid response in a post-conflict environment.
Our landmine clearance directly supports the implementation of the peace process and Colombia’s commitments to the Ottowa Treaty, which requires the country to be mine free by 2021. By creating jobs within the communities we serve, we help to get families back on their feet and we restore safe and secure environments, which can grow and flourish.
Chris Ince, programme manager for HALO Colombia comments:
This historic announcement, which heralds the end of over fifty years of conflict, is momentous news for the people of Colombia, particularly those displaced by the conflict.
Humanitarian demining is essential for the fulfillment of key negotiation points; land needs to be safe so that displaced people can return and rebuild their lives. We will continue to play a determining role in building lasting peace in Colombia and we very much look forward to playing our part in helping Colombia become mine free by 2021.