Colombia | From landmine victim to pro athlete
It’s early morning in Medellin, Colombia, but the pools at Complejo Acuatico outdoor aquatics complex are already full with swimmers. In one of the pools, ten swimmers race back and forth doing the breaststroke and butterfly as a coach calls out instructions. A collection of wheelchairs and prosthetic legs rest by the side of the pool.
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Colombia Must Set an Example by Assisting Landmine Victims
On International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Handicap International calls on governments, particularly the Colombian government, to take all necessary measures to assist mine victims and advance their rights.
Humanity & Inclusion in Colombia
Working in Colombia since 1998, Humanity & Inclusion conducts mine clearance actions and provides assistance to people impacted by landmines and other explosive weapons. Teams advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities and their specific needs in disaster preparedness planning. The organization also provides rehabilitation and mental health support to Venezuelan refugees.
As a result of a conflict that lasted for more than 50 years between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia is strongly impacted by armed violence. With at least 28 of its 32 departments contaminated by mines, Colombia is the second most mined country in the world after Afghanistan. According to a Humanity & Inclusion survey, 80% of survivors of armed violence have a disability. Although the country still experiences some violence, the Colombian government and FARC signed an historic peace agreement on in September 2016. Accredited that same year, Humanity & Inclusion is one of the country’s four official humanitarian demining actors.
Areas of Intervention
- Mine clearance
- Explosive ordnance risk education
- Disaster risk reduction
- Mental health and psychosocial support
- Inclusive humanitarian action
- Protection against violence and abuse.
In Colombia, Humanity & Inclusion has a team of 193 staff members.
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 live with permanent disabilities. Since 2017, Humanity & Inclusion has been implementing mine clearance actions in the five Colombian departments of Cauca, Meta, Nariño, Antioquia and Caquetá. Teams also provide psychosocial support and rehabilitation care to victims, and help them find gainful employment. As part of its holistic approach, Humanity & Inclusion also provides communities with risk education on how to spot, avoid and report explosive remnants of war.
Humanity & Inclusion also provides support for organizations run by and for people with disabilities so that they can be part of the decision-making processes relating to their inclusion in society, and improve the recognition of their rights. The organization also works to ensure the inclusion and protection of people with disabilities in natural disaster risk management and preparedness.
The organizations aims to protect indigenous communities, particularly women and girls, in Antioquia and Nariño from violence and abuse.
More than 1 million Venezuelan refugees are living in Colombia. Humanity & Inclusion provides refugees with psychosocial support and rehabilitation care, and organizes activities to promote social cohesion between Venezuelan refugees and Colombians living in host communities.
Since 2020, teams have been responding to Covid-19 by helping public actors adopt inclusive strategies, implementing training sessions and supporting people with disabilities and higher-risk populations.