Colombia remains contaminated with landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) following more than fifty years of conflict with domestic guerrilla organizations, drug traffickers, and other criminal groups. Colombia has recorded more than 11,800 landmine and unexploded ordnance casualties since 1990, the highest number of victims documented within the Western Hemisphere. A 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s largest guerilla organization at the time, contributed to a significant increase of financial and technical support from donors and the private sector. The U.S. remains the single largest supporter to Colombia’s mine action sector but the international donor community remains heavily involved.
Through the Departments of State and Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States has invested more than $135 million since 2001 to support Colombia’s mine action efforts. The United States has helped Colombia make significant progress towards protecting communities from harmful encounters with explosive hazards. Since 2006, the State Department has contributed $101.5 million to assist Colombia. Specifically, State’s assistance has supported civilian and military humanitarian demining organizations in conducting survey and clearance of high-impact minefields. State also supports mine risk education (MRE) in regions where security considerations preclude survey and clearance operations. Additionally, U.S. support strengthened the Colombian national authority’s capacity to prioritize and coordinate country-wide landmine removal efforts. Finally, the State Department supports the Organization of American States’ quality management program to ensure that land is cleared to international and national mine action standards and safe for return to the civilian populace. The State Department is prioritizing survey and clearance operations in municipalities that the Government of Colombia and USAID have prioritized for land titling and development projects.
In Colombia, the Department of Defense (DoD) has provided $12.5 million through a train and equip program to bolster an enduring national capacity. Additionally, DoD has provided specialized mechanical equipment to a civilian organization to expedite clearance progress. USAID has provided approximately $21 million to support both victims’ assistance and mine risk education programs.
U.S.-Funded Partner Initiatives
In Fiscal Year 2019, the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement provided $21 million to support humanitarian demining efforts in Colombia. State’s assistance supported the following implementing partners:
- ), Colombia’s first national humanitarian demining NGO, is conducting a survey and clearance project in Putumayo Department. CCCM also provided MRE to local communities, directly benefitting 3,395 people in 2019.
- continued to carry out a survey in San Jose del Fragua, a municipality within Caquetá Department, and received additional funding from the State Department to start clearance operations. Additionally, DDG provided MRE to 491 people.
- continues to strengthen the OACP’s capacity by embedding technical advisors within the institution to support operations, draft national mine action standards, and share knowledge.
- ) continued to conduct survey, clearance, and MRE in Antioquia, Cauca, and Meta Departments. In 2019, HALO cleared over 130,000 square meters (32 acres) and provided MRE to 1,567 people. HALO also began two new U.S.-funded projects: a survey and clearance project in Norte de Santander and a post-clearance impact assessment in Antioquia.
- Humanity & Inclusion (HI) continued to implement survey and clearance in Caqueta, Cauca, and Meta Departments, and started a new U.S.-funded project in northern Cauca. HI cleared over 51,000 square meters (12 acres) of land and provided risk education to over 1,200 Colombians in 2019.
- ) continued to implement the country-wide quality management program, which includes accreditation and quality assurance/quality control of civilian and military humanitarian demining organizations and personnel. The OAS also provided technical expertise to the Colombian national authority. In 2019, the Department provided the OAS funding to support the Colombian Marine humanitarian demining units conducting survey and clearance in Sucre Department.
- successfully implemented its survivor assistance project by providing prostheses and vocational assistance to 76 landmine survivors and connected those survivors with appropriate Colombian health services.
- organized community sporting events to provide MRE in locations where security considerations currently preclude humanitarian demining. In 2019, SOS delivered MRE to more than 16,542 men, women, and children living in or near suspected mine and explosive remnants of war contamination.
With previous year’s funding, supported in increasing access to quality rehabilitation services and promoting social inclusion and reconciliation through sporting activities for victims of the armed conflict and other persons with disabilities. They also supported the International Organization for Migration efforts to strengthen physical rehabilitation services and improve provider networks for victims of conflict and other persons with disabilities.
For more information on U.S. humanitarian demining and CWD programs, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, .