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Employing ex-combatants in mine action is a safe route to reintegration: UNMAS Study finds

Most of the ex-combatants hired by HUMANICEMOS DH have found that working in mine action is a "safe route to reintegration" and has allowed them to meet their basic needs, supported them to expand their skills and provided more security in the territories, according to a study published by UNMAS Colombia.

Bogotá, 24 November 2021 – Training and employing ex-combatants in mine action work is an effective way to ensure their social-economic reintegration, and to reduce the possibility of recidivism. These were conclusions of the Early Effects Assessment carried out by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) on the Humanicemos Project, implemented by UNMAS in Colombia and financed by the European Union through its European Trust Fund for Peace.  

The evaluation led by UNMAS analyzed five areas to determine the effectiveness of the Humanicemos Project in comparison with other reintegration initiatives implemented by ex-combatants in the municipality of La Montañita, Caquetá, the regional base of operations of HUMANICEMOS DH. In all aspects, the project implemented by UNMAS showed comparative advantages.

“Regarding staff retention, it was found that 86% of the HUMANICEMOS DH staff who joined the organization since its creation in 2017 are still working there, this is twice as long of the average length of stay compared to other reintegration projects, demonstrating the interest of the staff in formal jobs”, explained Pablo Parra, Acting Chief of Mine Action Programme of UNMAS Colombia. Regarding the income level, 100% of the HUMANICEMOS DH personnel have a labor contract, received a salary according to the role they perform and enjoyed the social benefits stipulated by law. This means that 67% of the staff can cover their basic personal needs and those of their family. 

Another finding was that 96% of HUMANICEMOS DH staff believed that being part of this organization will help them complete high school or obtain technical and professional degrees. The evaluation found that, unlike members of other reintegration projects, HUMANICEMOS DH staff feel safe (92%) living and working in Caquetá. 

When asked about their life projects, 100% of HUMANICEMOS DH staff affirmed that working in mine action has positively impacted their lives and 95% consider it a “safe route to reintegration”.

The Humanicemos Project makes major contributions to the peacebuilding and reconstruction of regions affected by explosive ordnance.  One hundred percent of the communities consulted approved of the presence of HUMANICEMOS DH in their territories and positively valued the work they are doing. For UNMAS, this project has the potential to be replicated in other peace processes in the world, turning HUMANICEMOS DH into a model of reintegration through mine action, as it is the first organization in the world formed and led by ex-combatants.

Download the Early Effects Assessment of the Humanicemos Reintegration Project in Colombia

About the research methodology

To carry out this Early Effects Assessment, UNMAS trained the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) team of HUMANICEMOS DH on social research methods for ex-combatants to participate in the investigative process. The results presented were obtained thanks to the conduct of focus groups, direct interviews with key partners and the application of some 150 surveys to HUMANICEMOS DH personnel, ex-combatants who live in the Agua Bonita II Community and inhabitants of the beneficiary communities of La Montañita, Caquetá, between October and December 2020. Access the research methodology (in Spanish) here