With over 8,000 victims between 1990 and August 2009, Colombia holds the record for highest number of victims from land mines in the world, according to the country’s authorities.
More than 1,100 new victims each year, said General Freddy Padilla de Leon, commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, at a seminar on demining in Cartagena Wednesday.
The general said that so far in 2009 100 military personnel have been killed and 409 injured by landmines.
“The mines produce great physical and psychological harm, and treatment is difficult… but it is more difficult [for landmine] victims to return to society and not become [beggars] like we see on the streets here in Colombia,” he said.
“This year, military forces have located and destroyed 92 minefields. They have also seized 13,973 explosive devices, 82.3 tons of explosives, 28,707 detonators and 68.2 miles of detonating cord that had done incalculable harm to the public and Colombian infrastructure,” said Padilla de Leon.
He added that Colombia’s armed forces have been dedicated to ridding the country of landmines since 2005, reported newspaper El Tiempo.
“In 2005 during the implementation of treaties and international commitments relevant actions were initiated in the vicinity of military bases with the aim of [demining the country],” said the general.
According to Padilla de Leon, the rebel groups responsible for laying lanmines across the country will pay for the crimes that they have been committing for so many years.
“FARC commander] Alfonso Cano, in his deranged mind, is trying to convince those who follow him and believe that laying mines can stop the military forces, regardless of the collateral damage it causes to children, the elderly and farmers that travel the same paths as the soldiers,” he said.