For more than five decades, armed groups have engaged in conflict with the Colombian government. Improvised explosive devices or IEDs, (classified as landmines in Colombia) have been laid throughout rural areas, devastating local communities. 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. There have been over 11,000 mine victims in Colombia since 1990.
At least 12% of the country’s population has been displaced during the years of conflict, with an estimated six million IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in 2014, the second highest number after Syria.
Landmines continue to have a huge effect on the civilian population, causing physical harm, preventing farming and affecting livelihoods. If more areas were assigned for demining it would prevent needless accidents, allowing life to return to normal and creating safe conditions for people to come home.
HALO set up an office in Colombia in 2009 and began clearance operations in September 2013. We are currently operating in Antioquia (the department with the highest number of mine victims), Meta and Tolima.
The recent assignment of additional tasks by DAICMA, the National Mine Action Authority, will allow HALO to begin new operations in the departments of Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Putumayo.
By the end of 2016, HALO Colombia had cleared a total of 86 minefields (311,123m²) safely destroying 279 mines in the process. Additionally, HALO’s survey teams have cancelled 269 suspected hazardous areas from the national database, which can now be declared safe for land restitution, IDP return and resettlement, and development. Together these activities have benefited about 1000 direct and 6,900 indirect beneficiaries.
Thanks are given for the generous support from our donors – Canada, European union, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and UNMAS.