The director of Colombia’s family welfare institute has deplored the landmine tragedy which left a three-year-old girl dead and another five with shrapnel wounds in a rural area in Tolima of western Colombia.
Director Diego Molano said that Colombian fields “cannot be death-traps for our children,” after the children who were playing in their backyard picked up the landmine thinking it was a ball. The mine exploded when it hit the ground sending shrapnel flying and killing one little girl while injuring five of her friends.
The rural area has long suffered from the presence of the FARC‘s 21st Front, with almost 23,000 displaced people due to the armed conflict.
The deaths of the children has pushed the number of Colombia’s landmine victims to the “dishonorable figure” of 10,001, according to the country’s vice-president on Tuesday.
Since 1990 the victims of landmines have included 6,222 military members and 3,779 civilians, among which 968 were minors. Colombia also had the second highest rate of landmine victims in the world in 2010, with 512 victims either maimed or killed putting the country second after Afghanistan with 1,211, according to the figures given by the vice presidency.
“The illegal armed groups should immediately halt the practice of planting the Colombian fields with explosive devices that are aimed against the civil population, especially against children, adolescents and innocent victims of the armed conflict which is alive in Colombia,” said Molano.
“This war must end,” said the family welfare director adding that the issue of landmines will continue indefinitely as long as the conflict is not resolved.