255 “manual coca eradicators” have been killed by mines while performing their duties, reported the government on Tuesday.
The official number of deaths while performing duties of destroying coca crops is currently at 255, with an additional 85 reported as injured by the mines used to protect the illegal crops, reported newspaper El Espectador.
The families of these victims have filed a series of lawsuits against the government to the value of approximately $13.5 million.
The manual coca eradicators are charged with the job of efficiently destroying coca crops once the area is taken over by the army or other government authorities. They are civilians, sometimes recruited through a public order, that are accompanied by security forces of either the police or the military.
The most recent global report indicates that drug cultivation of illicit crops has declined by 15% in Colombia.
The central government reported that, because of the situation being too dangerous, recruitment of eradicators by public order has been suspended in La Macarena, Meta in central Colombia. A spokesman stated that, “In La Macarena, there were many operations in which a significant group of eradicators were victims of landmine accidents.”