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 2020-25) and the operational demining plan.
Tasks are currently assigned to demining organizations in 135 municipalities with suspected contamination.
Increased capacities and support to the Colombian Mine Action Centre in the coordination of demining operations and Q/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 84 local and regional development plans and policies for impact-driven planning and execution of mine action operations.
10 million square meters of land have been cleared, destruction of 7,962 explosive devices and 281 municipalities declared free of suspected contamination through clearance and/or non-technical survey.
Socio-economic reintegration of 93 ex-combatants through humanitarian mine action.
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 2022, Colombia recorded 12,152 victims of explosive ordnance, 152 of them registered in 2021. As in the previous four years, the majority of these casualties have been civilians (61%), 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 mine action center 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 the implementation of the Peace Accord, such as the reintegration of ex-combatants through mine action.
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 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 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 mine action’s contribution to building peace and sustaining it over the longer term, as well as to enable the development of communities. UNMAS finances EORE, 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. In 2021, UNMAS developed a post-demining impact assessment methodology, to ensure all demining efforts are evaluated and prioritization efforts are improved.
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 conducts 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. In the same vein, UNMAS is also technically assisting a tripartite mechanism (OACP - FARC-EP - UN Verification Mission) to collect all available information on possible EO contaminated areas throughout the country. 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 Governments of Germany, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands for their 2021 contributions, to the European Union and the Republic of Korea for their 2021 and 2022 contributions and to the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation for the 2022 contributions. UNMAS is currently seeking financial support for 2022 amounting to $1.8 million dollars.
Data as of March 2022