Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon has urged the nation’s guerrillas to stop the use of anti-personnel landmines and commit to an ongoing battle to eliminate the deadly devices in Colombia, according to a press release by the Colombian Campaign Against Mines.
Garzon published a public letter Wednesday calling on Colombia’s leftist guerrilla groups to obey humanitarian guidelines by contributing to eliminating anti-personal landmines. The vice president added that such an act could be instrumental to the progress of the ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian government and the FARC, the nation’s largest rebel group.
Daniel Avila, Director of the Presidential Program for Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines (PAICMA) told Colombia Reports earlier this month, that “[the FARC and the issue of landmines are] linked precisely to the government of Colombia…[which is why the government must] call on the illegal armed groups such as the FARC and ELN to stop using land mines.”
Colombia’s National Army is continuously trying to diminish the number of lethal devices being planted by illegal armed groups and detect the unknown number of landmines already planted. Still, Colombia currently has the second largest number of landmine victims in the world after Afghanistan.
Since 1990, there has been 10,610 landmine victims in Colombia, including 4,107 civilians.
Additionally, the Colombian vice president urged the guerrillas to put an end to kidnapping, recruitment of child soldiers, and to “collaborate with UNICEF and the Colombian Institute for the Well-Being of Families (ICBF)” –the last indicating a request to halt all violent measures in Colombia that are directly affecting the nation’s social and economic situation.
The vice president also asked the country’s government to regard the lives and safety of the guerrillas if they obey and comply with the human rights guidelines.
“I consider it urgent, both for the government and the guerrillas, that we take a positive step in favor of peace, truth, forgiveness and reconciliation (…). Good intentions and simple declarations are not enough, actions are necessary to promote the population’s right to a better life, lived in tranquility and peace,” Garzón said.
- Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas (CCCM) Press Release