Humanity & Inclusion’s actions in Colombia include mine clearance actions, community mine risk education and the continuation of its victim assistance activities.
Orthopaedic fitting, Humanity & Inclusion Colombia | © Bas Bogaerts / HI
Landmines are omnipresent in conflict zones in Colombia, a country ravaged by armed violence. Thousands of people fall victim to this scourge and the vast majority of survivors suffer from a disability. Since 2017, Humanity & Inclusion has been implementing mine clearance actions in three Colombian departments (Cauca, Meta and Caquetá), providing assistance to victims (psychosocial support and rehabilitation care) and helping them start a new career. Humanity & Inclusion provides communities with risk education on mines and explosive remnants of war.
In Colombia, the care management system for people with disabilities is deficient. Needs however, are immense. Humanity & Inclusion is therefore working to improve the quality and accessibility of rehabilitation services. The organisation is also improving the skills of rehabilitation staff and supporting policy makers so that they are more attentive to the need for stronger rehabilitation services.
The organisation also provides support for disabled people's organisations so that they can be part of the decision-making processes relating to the inclusion of the most vulnerable people in society and improve recognition of their rights. Humanity & Inclusion also works to improve access to employment for people with disabilities, notably by creating vocational training spaces.
Colombia has the second highest number of victims of anti-personnel mines in the world - more than 11,500 in 25 years. According to Humanity & Inclusion, 80% of the survivors of armed violence suffer from a disability.
Colombia is strongly impacted by armed violence as a result of a conflict that lasted for over 50 years, and 31 of its 32 departments are contaminated by mines, making Colombia the second most mined country in the world after Afghanistan. From 1990, the use of improvised explosive devices became systematic. Nearly half of casualties are civilians who live in the remotest and the most deprived areas in terms of health structures and rehabilitation care. These accidents have serious consequences for casualties, including death, injury, long-term disabilities and psychological trauma.
Although the country is still strongly affected by a climate of violence (including armed delinquency and violence, and drug-trafficking and gold-mining gang violence), the Colombian government and the Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC) signed an historic peace agreement on 26 September 2016. Humanity & Inclusion, accredited in July 2016 as one of the country’s four official humanitarian demining actors, is implementing demining operations on contaminated land and providing mine risk education in the departments of Cauca, Meta and then Caquetá.