Colombia: Mine action continues amid pandemic and violence

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Humanity & Inclusion landmine clearance continues in Colombia despite the Covid-19 crisis and an upsurge in violence.

In the first half of 2020, mines killed or maimed 181 people in 14 departments of Colombia, according to figures from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In Colombia, the second most heavily mined country in the world after Afghanistan, Humanity & Inclusion has led mine clearance operations since 2017. Teams focus their work on three departments plagued heavily by internal violence: Cauca, Meta and Caquetá.

Thanks to the generous support of the United States of America via the U.S. Department of State’s office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, the Swiss Embassy in Colombia - Swiss Development Cooperation, and donations from thousands of individual donors, Humanity & Inclusion’s Colombian team takes a holistic approach to mine action.

Teams teach civilians to understand the risks posed by mines and what to do if they come across these deadly devices. Explosive ordnance technicians clear mines. And specialists assist victims of explosive devices to regain their strength and independence with physical therapy, psychological support, and access to inclusive employment.

Adapting to new challenges Humanity & Inclusion continues its efforts despite growing internal violence and population displacement, the emergence of new illegal armed groups who plant explosive devices to protect coca crops and deter rivals, and the Covid-19 crisis.

Despite this complex situation, Humanity & Inclusion continues to adapt its work to ensure safety of staff and civilians. The organization developed a safety plan to continue working while implementing personal precautionary measures against the Covid-19 pandemic and trained more than 100 staff members and volunteers as "community focal points" to raise the mine risk awareness of fellow villagers.