On Saturday the 15th of October 2016, the municipality of Nariño was handed over to the local population by President Juan Manual Santos and The HALO Trust. Nariño, in the Department of Antioquia, is now free of the suspicion of anti-personnel landmines.
This is an historic achievement because it is the first time in Colombia that a civil organization, with staff employed from the local community, has declared a municipality free of contamination from explosive remnants of war.
President Santos reaffirmed his, and the Nation’s Ottawa Mine Ban commitment to having a mine-free Colombia by 2021; stating that: ‘I would especially like to thank the countries that have and will continue to support this wonderful and important effort of sowing peace through the clearance of mines in our country, namely; Germany, Canada, USA, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, European Union, Switzerland, United Nations and Norway.’
HALO Colombia’s Programme Manager, Chris Ince, explained that ‘more than 4,000 people in Nariño will benefit, directly and indirectly, from the organization’s demining work’ and that ‘thanks to the 127 mines that we found and destroyed in the municipality, the lives of 127 people have been protected.’
Chris Ince went on to state that ‘the demining of Nariño has been significant for both the municipality and for the country in general, as this was one of the zones most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. The anti-personnel mines here were not just affecting the population, but the municipality’s development as well.’