HI’s actions in Colombia include mine clearance actions and victim assistance activities and advocates for the inclusion of people with disability in risk reduction to preparedness against natural catastrophes such as storms, landslides and floods. HI also provides rehabilitation and mental health support to Venezuelan refugees, who live in situation of extreme vulnerability.
Orthopaedic fitting in Colombia | © 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 five Colombian departments (Cauca, Meta, Nariño, Antioquia and Caquetá) and assisting victims (psychosocial support and rehabilitation care). HI provides communities with risk education on mines and explosive remnants of war.
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 aims to protect indigenous communities, particularly women and girls, in Antioquia and Nariño from violence and abuse.
HI helps Venezuelan refugees living in Colombia by providing them with psychosocial support and rehabilitation care and by organising activities to promote social cohesion between Venezuelan refugees and Colombians.
The organisation has been working on mitigating the effects of COVID-19 by helping public actors adopt inclusive strategies, implementing training sessions and supporting vulnerable people and people with disabilities.
Lastly, HI aims to improve the inclusion and protection of the most vulnerable people in natural disaster risk management and preparedness.
Situation of the country
Colombia has the second highest number of victims of anti-personnel mines in the world - more than 11,919 in 25 years. According to HI, 80% of the survivors of armed violence suffer from a disability.
Colombia is strongly impacted by armed violence because of a conflict that lasted for over 50 years. At least 28 of its 32 departments are contaminated by mines, making Colombia the second most mined country in the world after Afghanistan. From 1990, the use of improvised explosive devices became 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 still strongly affected by a climate of violence (including armed delinquency and violence, drug-trafficking and gold-mining gang violence), 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 and providing mine risk education in the departments of Cauca, Meta Nariño, Antioquia and Caquetá.
Number of HI staff members: 193
Date the programme opened: 1998