Colombia

Colombia seeks to strengthen the participation and inclusion of victims of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance in the national territory

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Geneva, Bogotá – Colombia, one of 30 States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention that has declared having a significant number of mine survivors (as of 2021, over 11,000) is carrying out a historic national stakeholder Dialogue with 14 associations that represent victims of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), plus more than a dozen national institutions and non-governmental and international organizations, including those that support or are in a position to support Colombia in its victim assistance efforts.

The 22-24 February Dialogue led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (OACP), is financially supported by a Decision of the European Union Council, and has the technical backing of the Secretariat of the treaty which bans the use, production, storage and transfer of antipersonnel mines.

Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Colombia will be joined by the Deputy Director of the Unit for Comprehensive Assistance and Reparation to Victims in Colombia, the Presidential Advisor for the Participation of Persons with Disabilities, and the President of the National Network of Survivors of Anti-Personnel Mines and UXO of Colombia, in an opening ceremony to be followed by discussions and a hands-on workshop.

“For Colombia this is the continuation of a strategy that began in 2015, to support integration of the National Network of Mine Survivors Associations into wider frameworks related to the rights of persons with disabilities, the national victim’s law, healthcare, labour, and other development targets,” said High Commissioner Miguel Antonio Ceballos Arévalo.

“The primary objective of the Dialogue is to strengthen the Network and to do so in a manner that ensures that survivors’ voices are heard and their inputs used in the development and updating of national policy,” said the High Commissioner.

“With this, Colombia is demonstrating its resolve towards meeting its national and international commitments,” he added. Associations from some of the regions most affected by mines – Antioquia, Arauca, Bolívar, Caquetá, Cauca, Córdoba, Chocó, Huila, Meta, Nariño, North Santander and Putumayo – will participate in person as well as survivor representatives who live in Bogotá where part of the meeting is being held. The meeting will take place under strict Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of its participants.

“The European Union is very proud to support these efforts. This week’s programme indicates that relevant ministries are here to listen to these associations, and organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Humanity and Inclusion and others, stand ready to support the work that during these three days will feed into the national healthcare and rehabilitation route for mine and UXO victims”, said EU Ambassador H.E. Patricia Llombart Cussac.

“The European Union project looks at empowering those who are injured by mines or other explosive remnants of war… to become active agents in their own development. For this purpose, at least 24 representatives will arrive in Bogotá from remote regions, some of them traveling days just to ensure that the needs and rights of the mine-affected communities they represent are taken into consideration in a transparent, inclusive process which we welcome,” noted the Ambassador.

Background: Contamination by anti-personnel mines including of an improvised nature in Colombia is the result of decades of internal conflict. The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Convention) was adopted in Oslo and Signed in Ottawa in 1997, entering into force in 1999. To date there are 164 States Parties representing more than 80% of the world’s countries; together these States have destroyed over 53 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines and released millions of square metres of land that were once contaminated. Find all information on this event here, bit.ly/Colombia-VA-Dialogue. For more information please contact us: press(at)apminebanconvention.org