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Colombia to reset priorities to tackle its landmine contamination


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Bogota and Geneva – Colombia, one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, is resetting priorities to tackle its landmine problem. The announcement was made at the beginning of a two-day workshop in Bogota which will refocus Colombia’s efforts in complying with its mine clearance obligation under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or Ottawa Convention.

“Colombia along with national and international partners is developing a plan to enable it to meet its treaty deadline,” said Daniel Avila, Director of Colombia’s Presidential Programme for Mine Action, PAICMA. “This workshop represents an opportunity for all interested parties to plan for the 2014-2016 period, and to contribute to Colombia meeting its 2021 deadline,” said Daniel Avila emphasizing Colombia’s commitment to fulfill its obligation acquired under the Convention.

Daniel Avila, Director of Colombia's Presidential Programme for Mine Action

Initially, Colombia committed to completing mine clearance not later than 1 March 2011. However, due in large part to the complexity of its landmine contamination and the regular and insidious use of these weapons by non-State armed groups, Colombia requested and was granted an extended deadline until 1 March 2021. In granting the extension in 2010, the international community noted that Colombia had an “incomplete picture” of its landmine problem and did not have “the information in place to develop an implementation plan based on concrete information.”

“Colombia’s mine action program is at an important phase as the country and its partners are carrying out the necessary surveys to gain greater clarity of the nature and extent of the contamination,” said Juan Carlos Ruan, Mine Action Specialist with the Convention's Implementation Support Unit (ISU) based in Geneva, who is attending the seminar in Bogota. “Colombia is acting in a responsible manner in developing a revised implementation plan to take into account its increased knowledge of the challenges it faces.”

Over 50 Colombian government officials, foreign diplomats and landmine clearance experts, including some which have traveled from Afghanistan, are meeting at the European Union sponsored workshop.

Juan Carlos Ruan, Mine Action Implementation Specialist with the Convention's ISU

Colombia’s leadership in ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines will again be demonstrated on 3-4 April 2014 in Medellin as it hosts a global conference on effectively meeting the needs of landmine survivors in broader contexts. Entitled, Bridges between Worlds, this conference will seek to deepen understandings and find synergies among the human rights, disability, international humanitarian law and victim assistance worlds.

Funding for both conferences is being provided by a European Union Council Decision intended to advance the implementation of the Convention and to further its humanitarian objectives.

For press inquiries, contact: Laila Rodriguez press(at)apminebanconvention.org or +41 (0) 22 906 1656. Find the Convention on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.