During 2017 and 2018, the Colombian mine action sector has made critical contributions to implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord and expanded its operations exponentially. UNMAS, providing technical assistance to national mine action body Dirección Descontamina Colombia, 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 and the operational demining plan.
- Tasks in 263 municipalities with suspected contamination assigned to demining organizations.
- Expansion of demining capacity through the accreditation of 10 civilian organizations, with 5,692 men and women accredited to conduct humanitarian demining operations;
- Socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants through humanitarian demining.
- Start of demining operations in 77 highly-impacted municipalities since the establishment of the UNMAS Colombia Programme in 2010.
- 2,761 devices destroyed and 4.01 km2 of contamination cleared since 2010.
As a result of more than fifty years of conflict involving various actors, Colombia suffers from widespread landmine and explosive remnant of war (ERW) contamination. Despite the number of new mine and ERW victims having fallen steadily since a peak in 2006, Colombia still registered 56 new casualties in 2017 and, in a concerning reversal of the downward trend, almost double that during the first half of 2018 alone. Since 2010, UNMAS has assisted Descontamina Colombia and humanitarian demining organizations to increase the sector’s capacity and develop its coordination and regulatory frameworks. Following the ratification of the 2016 Peace Accord between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), mine action has benefitted from improved access to previously inaccessible contaminated areas and increased funding. It contributes further to building and sustaining peace in Colombia through the reintegration of ex-combatants through employment in mine action.
- Support to National Authorities
UNMAS provides technical assistance to mine action authorities and other state entities, supporting the Government’s efforts to meet its 2021 Ottawa Treaty deadline to clear antipersonnel landmines. Assistance focuses on strategic and operational planning, sector coordination, sharing international best practices, the development of national mine action standards and accreditation capacity, as well as the institutional strengthening of Descontamina Colombia.
- Support to the Mine Action Sector
UNMAS also promotes the capacity development and growth of humanitarian demining organizations. With a particular emphasis on supporting Colombian civilian organizations, UNMAS provides assistance on the development of standard operating procedures, training of personnel and compliance with accreditation processes. UNMAS also funds survey and clearance operations by local and international demining organizations.
- Support to the Peace Process
In the 2016 Peace Accord, demining is recognised as a prerequisite for post-conflict rural development, an occupation for reintegrated ex-combatants and a method for their provision of victim reparations. UNMAS is currently managing a project to support the technical and administrative capacity development of Humanicemos DH, a humanitarian demining organization established by former FARC-EP combatants to achieve those ends.
UNMAS is thankful to Australia, the European Union, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the Colombia Post-Conflict UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for their 2018 contributions. For 2019, UNMAS is seeking USD 1.5 million to fund its core activities (of which USD 250,000 has been secured) and an additional USD 500,000 to strengthen the capacity of Descontamina Colombia for coordinating mine action in the field.
Updated: October 2018