Colombia Against Mines No Más Minas Antipersonal Help! Ayúdanos!

Colombia Against Mines - Colombia No Mas Minas Antipersonal

Colombia Against Mines - Help Us - Ayúdanos !

Colombia‘s increasing number of landmine victims are the  “poorest, most removed from urban centers and health care” of all victims of the country’s armed conflict, said the director of the Colombian Campaign against Landmines (CCCM) in a call for donations Sunday.

“Generally, we must keep the victims in mind, but pay special attention to the landmine victims; farmers who need our support and accompaniment,” Alvaro Jimenez told Colombia reports which is dedicating its annual Christmas fundraiser to the NGO.

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Jimenez confirmed government figures that more people fell victim to landmines in 2011 than in 2010.

According to official figures, nearly 10,000 Colombians have fallen victim to landmines since 1990. More than 2,000 of these victims died as a result of their injuries. Of the victims, 5,964 were members of the security forces and 3,591 were civilians.

Between January and October this year, 132 civilians and 237 members of the security forces were injured by landmines.

The increase in victims “is because of the increase in military operations by the armed forces which results in an increase of the use [of landmines] by illegal armed groups like the FARC, ELN, paramilitaries or criminal groups,” said the NGO director.

The rise in civilian victims of landmines is due to the fact that “the Colombian state involves civilians as eradicators of illicit crops” like coca, said Jimenez. This, like planting minefields, is against the 1997 Ottawa Treaty which bands the production, distribution and use of landmines.

“The fact that we have 266 dead or mutilated eradicators because of explosives confirms our concern,” the CCCM director said.

Thirty-five percent of Colombia’s landmine victims are civilians. Eight percent are minors.

To prevent civilians from falling victim to landmines, Jimenez’ organization trains victims to educate teachers, parents and children how to recognize possible mine fields and take action. “In (the departments of) Antioquia, Arauca, Choco, Cesar, Norte de Santander and Caqueta we have survivors who train communities in rural areas,”Jimenez said.

Survivors are also involved in the “education regarding mine risk and the accompaniment of victims.”

By allowing the survivors to take part in the education, accompaniment and prevention programs “we succeed in putting them in charge of the problem that affects them, making them their own spokesperson instead of becoming second-class citizens”

As long as Colombia’s armed conflict lasts, people will continue to fall victim to landmines, said Jimenez. However, according to the NGO director, “we will continue to be present in the rural areas.”

Colombia Reports supports the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines in their labor to educate rural communities to prevent civilian victims and the reintegration of survivors into Colombian society. Please show your solidarity and donate.

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