Geneva Call welcomes the humanitarian agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC–EP) “on the cleaning and decontamination of the territory of the presence of antipersonnel mines […], improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO), or explosive remnants of war (ERW) in general.” This agreement was concluded on 7th March 2015 in Havana, Cuba.
This important step forward will greatly benefit the communities that have been highly affected by anti-personnel mines (AP mines) and ERW. The protection of Colombia’s civilian population will have been improved even before a final agreement is concluded.
AP mines and ERW remain major humanitarian concerns in Colombia, with 11,043 victims recorded since 1990. These include 4,226 civilian victims and 6,817 members of the Colombian armed forces or police. The number of victims belonging to armed non-State actors is unknown.
Since 2003, Geneva Call has been in dialogue with the Government of Colombia, armed non-State actors and civil society organizations on the dangers of AP mines and ERW, particularly for the civilian population.
Since the beginning of the peace process, Geneva Call has engaged with the FARC–EP on possible unilateral steps and humanitarian agreements on AP mines and ERW. Indeed, concrete proposals have been made to both sides. Geneva Call has exchanged views with many like-minded international and Colombian stakeholders. Furthermore, it has raised awareness about humanitarian mine action in affected communities, which has led to teaching over 17,000 members of severely affected indigenous groups about the risks of mines.
Geneva Call is pleased that the communities concerned will be closely involved and consulted throughout the entire survey and clearance process. This will ensure that their specific needs and circumstances are taken into account and addressed directly.
Geneva Call would like to assure the parties of its readiness to contribute to the implementation of this agreement, building on the experience it has gained with affected communities in Colombia and in the field of humanitarian mine action with armed non-State actors.
The impact of AP mines and ERW in Colombia remains a concern, including in areas where the National Liberation Army (ELN) is present. Geneva Call hopes that a similar agreement on AP mines and ERW will soon be concluded between the Government of Colombia and the ELN.