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 and the operational demining plan.
- Tasks currently assigned to demining organizations in 159 municipalities with suspected contamination.
- Expansion of demining capacity through the accreditation of 10 organizations, with 5,692 men and women accredited to conduct humanitarian demining operations.
- Start of socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants through humanitarian mine action.
- Demining operations have started in 57% of the municipalities with the highest degree of contamination. Destruction of 6,870 explosive devices and 174 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 remnant of war (ERW) contamination. Despite the number of new mine and ERW victims having fallen steadily between 2006 and 2016, in a concerning reversal of the downward trend, Colombia registered 178 casualties in 2018 and 82 between January and August 2019. Since 2010, UNMAS has assisted the national mine action centre now under the High Commissioner for Peace and humanitarian demining organizations to increase the mine action 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 benefited from improved access to previously inaccessible contaminated areas and increased funding. Notably, the reintegration of ex-combatants through employment in mine action is a major contribution to building and sustaining peace in Colombia.
Objective: Impact of explosive hazards on affected communities is mitigated thus contributing to sustained peace and socio-economic development.
UNMAS aims to strengthen the mine action sector’s organizational, 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 deadline to clear antipersonnel landmines, assist victims, and raise the awareness of the population about the dangers of explosive hazards. UNMAS also promotes the capacity development and growth of mine action operators, with a particular emphasis on supporting Colombian civilian organizations. In addition, UNMAS finances risk education, victim assistance, survey and clearance operations, with a focus on do-no-harm and high-impact interventions and age, gender and diversity mainstreaming.
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 administrative capacity development of Humanicemos DH, a humanitarian mine action organization established by former FARC-EP combatants. UNMAS will advocate for and support the contribution mine action can make in other potential peace processes in Colombia. Furthermore, 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 is thankful to the Governments of Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden, as well as the Central Emergency Response Fund and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Sustaining Peace in Colombia for their current contributions. For 2020, UNMAS is seeking USD 2.24 million to fund its programme activities.
Updated: June 2019