After four years of negotiations, the Colombian Government and the FARC reached a final peace deal, ending over 50 years of armed conflict.
As a civilian humanitarian demining organisation, we see this as a great step for peace in Colombia. It will support our work towards meeting President Juan Manuel Santos’s aim and the country’s Ottawa Convention commitment of making Colombia free from mines by 2021.
We hope that with this agreement, members of the FARC will be able to provide information on the location of anti-personnel mines, in support of the demining process. We are prepared to increase our levels of cooperation with the Reintegration Agency (ACR) by hiring more ex-combatants. Currently, former combatants make up 10% of HALO Colombia’s staff.
Chris Ince, HALO Colombia’s Programme Manager, stated that;
The agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC will greatly benefit Colombia and the region. In terms of humanitarian demining, this agreement will allow us to access areas where, previously, we could not work due to the conflict. This work will benefit many Colombians, because land made safe through demining can then be used for productive and agricultural projects which will improve quality of life among local communities. Furthermore, land declared safe through humanitarian mine action allows land restitution requests to be addressed, and supports the return of people who have been displaced by the conflict. Safe land, free from the suspicion of anti-personnel mines, is necessary for the implementation of many of the points agreed during the peace process, such as Comprehensive Rural Reform. For these reasons, we are committed to demining in Colombia and around the world.
The HALO Trust is a neutral non-profit civil humanitarian demining organisation that arrived in Colombia in 2009, initiating demining operations in 2013. Currently we work in the departments of Antioquia, Meta and Tolima, where we have cleared more than 250,000 square metres, and safely located and destroyed more than 250 anti-personnel mines. Through our work we have directly benefited around 870 people, and indirectly benefitted more than 5,770 people.