Historic agreement will rid Colombia of landminesDanish Refugee Council applauds the achievement of a historic peace agreement in Colombia, after decades of bloody conflict. The document was signed by the Colombian government and the insurgent group FARC was signed last night. According to DRC’s Demining unit, the Danish Demining Group (DDG) it will pave the way for the elimination of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Colombia has registered more than 11.000 accidents maiming a large number of civilians between 1990 and 2015 and is currently one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.
The agreement between FARC and the Colombian government was signed after lengthy negotiations in Havana in Cuba and confirmed the solution to one of the most serious threats of landmines and explosive remnants of war in the world – only Afghanistan has a higher number of casualties.
“We have been following the peace process closely in anticipation of an agreement that would allow mine clearance to be carried out in all affected areas in Colombia. DDG has been working closely with the Colombia’s mine action coordination centre, DAICMA, since 2014 and is now present in some of the most contaminated areas of Colombia, in the conflict corridor between Sumapaz and Sierra de la Macarena national parks. These are traditional FARC strongholds that will now be opened to the clearing of landmines and explosive remnants of war. This will ensure the protection of civilians and enable the return of internally displaced populations - this is a huge step forward,” says Head of Emergency for DRC, Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
Colombia has been tormented by decades of conflict and the legacy of a contamination. The conflict has lasted more than 50 years - more than 260.000 people have lost their lives and more than 7 million people have been displaced. The presence of landmines and explosive remnants of war are not only a threat to the population – they also threaten the sustainability of the peace process.
“The remaining landmines and explosive remnants of war in symbolic and sensitive areas such as the conflict corridor poses a significant threat to the sustainability of the peace-process. They potentially complicate issues surrounding land tenure, illicit cultivation, and park boundaries and provoke future conflict if not removed,” says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
The DDG has been present in Colombia since 2010 providing technical support to the Colombian government department in charge of mine action coordination, the Dirección para la Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal (DAICMA).
“We have been in Colombia for years and now see the light at the end of the tunnel for Colombia to be mine free. This can happen in a less than a decade if resources are made available to support clearance. we are now working to ensure survey and mine-risk education for the local population and returned internally displaced, but would like to expand our operations to be able to help more people to remove the threat of these deadly weapons from their lives,” says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
Danish Demining Group (DDG) operates in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected places in the world including Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The focus is on those countries most affected by landmines and other explosive remnants of war as well as widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons.