Since 2017, the Colombian mine action 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 (Office of the High Commissioner for Peace - Descontamina Colombia) 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 2020-2025) and the operational demining plan.
Tasks currently assigned to demining organizations in 135 municipalities with suspected contamination.
Expansion of the presence of the Colombian Mine Action Centre, and support to the implementation of demining, EORE and victim assistance interventions in 13 of the most Explosive Ordnance (EO) affected departments in Colombia.
Inclusion of mine action into 72 regional and development plans and policies for impact-driven planning and execution of mine action operations.
Start of socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants through humanitarian mine action.
8.1 million square meters of land have been cleared, destruction of 7,706 explosive devices and 228 municipalities declared free of suspected contamination through clearance and/or non-technical survey.
As a result of more than fifty years of conflict, Colombia suffers from widespread landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination. A sad milestone has been reached in Colombia passing the mark of 12,000 officially registered victims of explosive ordnance (12,014 as of 28 February 2021). By global tallies, this number makes Colombia the second most affected country in the world. In the previous four years, the majority of these casualties have been civilians, which seems to indicate that new explosives are being installed in areas that were previously thought free from contamination where there is now the risk of accidents due to the new dynamics of conflict.
Since 2010, UNMAS has assisted the national mine action centre and humanitarian demining 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 the implementation of the Peace Accord, such as the reintegration of ex-combatants through mine action.
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 and monitoring entities (such as the Organization of American States), supporting the Government’s efforts to meet its Ottawa Treaty recently extended deadline to clear antipersonnel landmines, assist victims, and raise the awareness of the population about the dangers of explosive hazards. Likewise, UNMAS promotes capacity development and growth of mine action operators, with a particular emphasis on supporting Colombian civilian organizations to increase operational efficiency.
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 because of its vicinity to contamination, and the provision of health and education services. These will leverage mine action’s contribution to building peace and sustaining it over the longer term. UNMAS finances explosive ordnance risk education, victim assistance, survey and clearance operations in the most affected regions of Colombia, with a focus 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 post-conflict rural development, an occupation for reintegrated ex-combatants and a vehicle for their provision of victim reparations. UNMAS supports the technical and organizational capacity development of Humanicemos DH, a humanitarian mine action organization established by former FARC-EP combatants, and is since March 2020 in charge of the accreditation and quality management of its demining operations which led to the deployment operations for the first time in 2020. UNMAS will advocate for and support the contribution mine action can make in other potential peace processes in Colombia.
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 European Union and the Governments of Italy and Germany for their 2020 and 2021 contributions, and to the Republic of Korea for its 2021 contribution. Additionally, UNMAS is seeking USD 1.07 million to fund the rest of its programme activities.
Data as of March 2021