HomeNewsBriefWill Government Inaction See Landmine Use Spike in Colombia?
BRIEF

Will Government Inaction See Landmine Use Spike in Colombia?

COLOMBIA / 11 FEB 2020 BY NATALIA SUÁREZ EN

As the Colombian government asks for more time to meet its legal obligation to clear old landmines, the number of people killed or wounded by mines climbed by 56 percent last year -- evidence that the South American nation's landmine nightmare is far from over.

On January 15, the Colombian government said it would ask for a delay to its commitment as part of the Ottawa Treaty to remove all anti-personnel landmines in the country, High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos announced at a press conference.

Ceballos said that landmines have been cleared from 113 municipalities under the administration of President Iván Duque. Landmine clearance was part of the 2016 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia -- FARC) rebel group, which planted massive amounts of explosive ordinance and landmines during its war with the government.

SEE ALSO: InSight Map: Landmines, Favored Tactic of the FARC

While demining efforts continue, the number of victims is rising. In 2019, landmines in Colombia killed or injured 344 people, up from 220 in 2018, El Espectador reported, citing Red Cross figures. The departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Chocó, Nariño and Norte de Santander were the most severely affected, with Norte de Santander recording 108 victims alone, according to the news outlet.

"Of the 290,000 square meters ... identified as having anti-personnel mines in 2018, around 20 percent were newly planted and found mainly in the department of Cauca," according to new figures from the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor cited by El País.

InSight Crime Analysis

Demining efforts have been going poorly in Colombia for the last couple of years. But there is now real concern that the government's lack of attention to landmines is causing armed groups to begin manufacturing and using them again.

In May 2019, for example, a cache of 563 landmines was found in Riosucio, Antioquia, ready to be used by the Urabeños.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños Landmines are Guerrilla Tactic from Colombia’s Dark Past

In addition, the high number of casualties from landmines seen in Norte de Santander in 2019 is more than likely the result of mines used during a furious turf war between the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación -- EPL) and National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional -- ELN).

Although Colombia signed the Ottawa Treaty in 2006 and vowed to have the entire country free of landmines by 2021, the government has since requested a delay until 2025. In November 2019, Colombia reported that a total of 391 municipalities were free of land mines, or 55 percent of the 713 municipalities scarred with the explosive devices, according to Colombian delegates to the Fourth Review Conference of the Ottawa Treaty, El País reported.

It seems unlikely that authorities will be able to rid all of Colombia's municipalities of landmines in the next four years. What's more, at a time when international supervision would be needed to ensure Colombia stays on track with its demining efforts, the United States is reversing its own restrictions on the production and use of landmines.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 29 OCT 2021

The fascination with “narco-culture” has taken over the entertainment and media industries: documentaries, TV shows, movies, podcasts, even a dedicated…

COLOMBIA / 26 MAY 2022

Until his death, Gentil Duarte was the most-wanted man in Colombia and one of South America's leading drug traffickers.

ARGENTINA / 6 JUL 2022

Tusi, a pink synthetic drug powder, is increasing its share of Latin America's drug markets.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…