With 368 casualties in 2013, 49 of them dead, Colombia has become the world’s tragic leader in landmine victims, surpassing Afghanistan, Darfur, Libya, and Somalia, among other countries.
In 2013, an average of 10 people a day were left wounded or dead in Colombia due to landmines planted by guerrilla rebel groups, according to director of programs of the Action Service UN Mine Action Service, Paul Heslop.
These numbers are remarkably different than those presented by Colombia’s Presidential Program for Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines ( PAICMA ). According to PAICMA, between 1990 to March 2014, there have been 10,628 victims. In contrast to UN statistics, this would mean only one victim daily rather than ten.
|“It is the duty of the guerrillas to stop planting landmines, and to facilitate demining in rural areas in cooperation with the Colombian government and the international community.”|
According to PAICMA, the number of landmine victims has decreased significantly since its peak in 2006, when there were 1,223 causalities.
During a press conference at the global Mine Ban Convention in Medellin on Thursday, Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzon told Colombia Reports that ”Anti-personnel mines are still being planted by Colombia’s [rebel groups] FARC and ELN guerrillas. I believe that it is the duty of the guerrillas to stop planting landmines, and to facilitate demining in rural areas in cooperation with the Colombian government and the international community.”
“The duty of the Colombian state is to intensify all efforts to support [surviving] victims of anti-personnel mines, because it is extremely bad for democracy that a victim of the mines–whether soldier, police, indigenous, afro-Colombian, peasant, or child– does not feel the supporting hand of the government. It is the State’s duty to care for and act in solidarity with the victims,” said Garzon.
The United Nations’ human rights office in Colombia on Wednesday also called on the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, to discontinue their use of antipersonnel land mines, and provide the location of the mines to avoid further civilian casualties.
“We are also asking the FARC and the ELN to acknowledge their use of landmines, and to help locate these mines, since they have created a situation where people live in constant fear,” said the UN representative.
- Colombia, el triste líder en víctimas por minas (Semana Magazine)
- Colombia ocupa el primer lugar del mundo en víctimas por minas (W Radio)
- Interview with Vice-President Angelino Garzon