"I believe that by making land safe we are fulfilling the right of all people. To be at one with nature is part of my community’s origins and beliefs, thus even more rights are fulfilled when we are given territory and space so that we can live our lives and pass down our heritage to our children.” Luis Ángel Perdomo, Mayor of the Kwet Wala Indigenous Reserve
Until HALO began work in the Kwet Wala Indigenous Reserve, the community were afraid to walk through the hills surrounding their village in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. During Colombia’s years of conflict, armed guerrilla groups hid improvised explosive devices across rural areas, leaving a potentially fatal legacy behind and preventing communities like those of Kwet Wala from using their land freely.
But, thanks to support from the governments of the Netherlands, Canada and the United States, HALO has spent six months clearing two minefields in the reserve. This week, at an event hosted by HALO and attended by the High Commissioner for Peace and the new Director of the Colombian Humanitarian Demining National Authority, Miguel Ceballos, the land was officially declared free of landmines. The community will now be able to live without fear and enjoy their land according to their customs.