Colombia is currently one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, with more than 10,000 recorded deaths and injuries from landmines since 1990.
In many cases, landmine contamination prevents the return of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) to their land. According to government statistics, there are more than 3.6 million registered IDPs in Colombia, a figure second only to Sudan. The new Victims Law aims to compensate victims of the Colombian conflict and lays out plans to return 3,000,000ha of land to those who have been displaced.
Although the conflict is ongoing, in August 2012 the Colombian government and FARC signed an agreement outlining negotiations for peace. In October 2012, the Colombian government and FARC began their first direct negotiations for a decade in Norway. If peace is successfully negotiated, the requirement for civilian humanitarian demining in Colombia will increase greatly. HALO is well placed to respond to the landmine problem.
Whilst over 10,000 potentially Suspect Hazardous Areas (SHAs) exist in Colombia’s IMSMA records, it is unlikely all of these still contain active mines.
However it is widely accepted that Colombia has a major mines problem:
“Colombia continues to have the world's highest increase in accidents with anti-personnel mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance), which are affecting more and more civilians” - ECHO Colombia 2009
Mines laid by NSAGs are found on routes used by government forces and around illicit crop plantations and schools and houses used as bases in rural areas. In regions that the Colombian military now control these mines are still present and are preventing the civilian population returning and the necessary development taking place.