The Colombian government on Thursday said that 70% of the land earmarked for land restitution is affected by landmines.
The revelation was made by the head of the land restitution unit, Ricado Sabogal, who explained that the presence of the mines was a consequence of illegal armed groups operating on the territory due to be given to peasants displaced by the armed conflict.
“The national government in the process of land restitution will not give back land with mines and they will be delivered when they are habitable so that the persons can live [there],” said Sabogal.
According to government figures, the areas most affected by landmines were the northern Norte de Santander department, the southwestern Tolima department, the northern Montes de Maria region, parts of the southwestern Valle del Cauca department and parts of the northwestern Antioquia department.
Sabogal said his institution would work closely with the ministry of defense to make sure that land due for restitution was prioritized in regard to land mine clearance.
Colombia’s Victims and Land Restitution Law, aiming in part to give land rights to the millions of Colombians displaced by armed conflict, took effect in January 2012. Some NGOs have criticized the law for containing bureaucratic hurdles which have effectively prevented thousands of displaced families from regaining their livelihoods.
Additionally, several land restitution activists have been murdered since the law took effect.
- Tierras para restitución están minadas, admite el Gobierno (Caracol Radio)