Since 2017, the Colombian mine action (MA) sector has made critical contributions to the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord and has expanded its operations exponentially. UNMAS, providing technical assistance to the national mine action centre (MAC - Office of the High Commissioner for Peace) and the humanitarian architecture since 2010, has contributed to the following results in support of building and sustaining peace in Colombia:
Launch of the National mine action Strategic Plan 2016-21 (updated for 2020-25) and the operational demining plan.
Tasks are currently assigned to demining organizations in 98 municipalities with suspected contamination.
Increased capacities and support to the Colombian MAC in the coordination of demining operations and QM/QC activities, implementation of Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) and victim assistance interventions in 13 of the most Explosive Ordnance (EO) affected departments in Colombia.
Inclusion of mine action into 95 local and regional development plans and policies for impact-driven planning and execution of mine action operations.
13.62 million square meters of land have been cleared, destruction of 9,105 explosive devices and 313 municipalities declared free of suspected contamination through clearance and/or non-technical survey.
Socio-economic reintegration of 95 ex-combatants through humanitarian mine action.
Collection of information on the location of 22 hazardous areas from 14 departments by former FARC-EP combatants, who, honoring their commitment to the 2016 Peace Agreement, handed said information to the Government of Colombia. The data collected will serve the prioritization of humanitarian demining task assignment.
As a result of more than fifty years of conflict, involving various non-state armed actors, Colombia suffers from widespread landmine and explosive remnants of war contamination. As of 31 January 2023, Colombia recorded 12,390 victims of explosive ordnance, 85 of them registered in 2023. As in the previous four years, in 2023 the majority of these casualties were civilians (58.8%), which seems to indicate that new EO are being installed in areas previously considered safe by local residents and free from contamination, where there is now the risk of accidents due to the new conflict dynamics.
Since 2010, UNMAS has assisted the national MAC and the humanitarian mine action organizations to increase the mine action sector’s capacity and develop its coordination and regulatory frameworks. Although the mine action sector continues to face significant challenges, it has been responsible for tangible contributions to implementing the Peace Accord, such as the reintegration of ex-combatants through mine action and through a pilot on information sharing on the location of explosive ordnance.
In July 2021, UNMAS Colombia became the first UNMAS Programme to put nationalization into effect, with all the Programme's personnel being Colombian nationals, thus achieving the goal set out in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
Technical assistance and capacity building
UNMAS aims to strengthen the mine action sector’s operational, institutional, and coordination capacities. UNMAS provides technical assistance to mine action authorities, supporting the Government’s efforts to meet its Ottawa Treaty, recently extended the deadline to clear antipersonnel landmines, assist victims, and raise the population's awareness about the dangers of explosive hazards. Likewise, UNMAS promotes mine action operators' capacity development and growth, emphasizing support to Colombian civilian organizations to increase operational efficiency and safety.
Explosive ordnance risk education, victim assistance, land release operations
UNMAS encourages development-driven interventions such as those which allow for the productive use of released land, the enhancement of infrastructure which had previously been neglected due to contamination, and the provision of health and education services. These will leverage the mine action contribution to building peace and sustaining it over the longer term and enable the development of communities. UNMAS finances EORE and victim assistance activities in the most affected regions of Colombia, focusing on do-no-harm and high-impact interventions and age, gender and diversity mainstreaming.
Implementation of mine action related aspects of the peace process
In the 2016 Peace Accord, demining is recognised as a pre-requisite for rural development, an occupation for reintegrating ex-combatants and a vehicle for their provision of victim reparations. UNMAS supports the capacity development and conducted the operations quality management of Humanicemos DH, a humanitarian mine action organization established by former FARC-EP combatants. With UNMAS support, Humanicemos DH delivered the first mine-free area in 2021. UNMAS also technically assisted a tripartite mechanism (OACP - FARC-EP - UN Verification Mission) to collect all available information on possible EO-contaminated areas throughout the country. The Programme supports the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP by its Spanish acronym) to define individual reparatory actions (TOARs per its Spanish acronym) based on the reparatory measures performed in the mine action sector. As a result, the JEP decided to include a mine action pilot project to implement the first sanctions of the cases it rules. UNMAS advocates for and supports the mine action contribution that can be integrated into other potential peace processes under the Total Peace policy in Colombia, such as the ongoing negotiations with the ELN and the Estado Mayor Central guerrillas.
Advocacy and coordination
UNMAS advocates for the mainstreaming of mine action in national policy frameworks, in coordination with the Government of Colombia, the United Nations System, donors and NGOs.
UNMAS is thankful to the Governments of Denmark, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Norway, the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the Central Emergency Response Fund, and the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office for contributions in 2023 and 2024. UNMAS is currently seeking $ 2.8 million dollars for 2024.
Data as of December 2023