HI promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in Colombian society – in particular the victims of armed conflict or anti-personnel landmines. Since 2017, it has been implementing mine clearance actions, providing communities with mine risk education and continuing its victim assistance activities.
© Bas Bogaerts / HI
Actions in process
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, HI 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. HI provides communities with risk education on mines and explosive remnants of war.
In Colombia, the care management system for people with disabilities is deficient. The needs however, are immense. HI 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. HI also works to improve access to employment for people with disabilities, notably by creating vocational training spaces.
Situation of the country
Colombia has the second highest number of victims of anti-personnel landmines in the world - more than 11,100 in 25 years. According to HI, 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 has already 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. Since 1990, the use of improvised explosive devices has become 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 also ravaged by drug trafficking, armed delinquency and violence associated with gold mining, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC) signed an historic peace agreement on 26 September 2016. HI, accredited in July 2016 as one of the country’s four official humanitarian demining actors, is implementing demining operations on contaminated land in the departments of Cauca, Meta and then Caquetá.