Colombian government confirmed there have been 208 victims of landmines during 2015, of which 27 were children and 11 members of indigenous communities.
Speaking at the fourteenth meeting of States – part of the Convention on the Prohibition of landmines held this week in Geneva – Colombia presented the efforts that they have carried out in a nationwide demining operation.
At a speech at the convention, Colombian Ambassador to Switzerland, Beatriz Londoño Soto, stated, “since the extension request (to comply with the freeing the land of these artefacts) made by my country in 2010, Colombia has declared five municipalities free of suspected mines.”
The overall perspective is that detonating suspected mines in territories will allow the voluntary and safe return of displaced peoples, as well as increased investment in rural areas.
She also mentioned that it is very challenging to determine exactly which areas are affected.
“For illegal armed groups is very easy to install landmines and very costly and complex for the state to clear them,” she said.
She added that the use of improvised explosive devices, continue to cause deaths and affect civilians as well as soldiers.
The report comes just days after a 17-year-old boy was seriously injured by a landmine in the Putumayo region.
The case of Putumayo
According to an El Espectador report from November 29, a teenager was injured after becoming the latest victim of an explosive device in Colombia’s Putumayo department. The boy was treated by military nurses, who managed to save his life.
The incident occurred in the village of La Tigrera, a rural area in the Leguimazo municipality.
The young man who was accompanied by his two sisters aged 10 and 14-years-old were on their way to complete farming activities in the pastures around their house.
Thee teenager, identified as Jhonatan Pianda Figueroa, accidentally activated a landmine said to be planted by members of guerrilla group the FARC.
The blast and shrapnel wounded the young man on the right side of his body, affecting his arm, leg and abdomen.
The new report also shows that Colombia is surpassed only by Afghanistan in the death toll as a result of landmines.
The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor stated that Colombia stands out as one of the 10 countries worldwide that continues to use these explosives in their armed conflict.
“While the world has made great progress, the past year saw the return in the use of landmines and victims caused as a result,” said Jeff Abramson, program manager and editor of the report “Cluster Munition Monitor” 2015.
Although it does not make direct reference to the guerrilla groups FARC or ELN, the organization states that non-state armed groups have considerably increased their usage of landmines, with figures at the greatest level recorded since records began in 1999.
The other nine countries that are part of the blacklist of use of landmines include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen, according to the report.
“The new landmine use by armed groups in Conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen and continued large-scale use in Afghanistan are deeply worrying.” Said Mark Hiznay, researcher from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch.