Colombia’s government and rebel group the FARC have not begun their joint demining operation, despite previous statements suggesting that by now it would be well underway.
The parties continue to develop the demining plan they agreed to in March and expect to start clearing the explosives “soon,” both sides said Monday.
“The demining committee is doing well, if they do not complete [designing the plan] today, they will finish it in the following cycle of talks” said a government delegate in Havana.
However, Colombia’s minister in charge of post-conflict public security in March estimated that by now, more substantial progress would have been achieved.
“We would hope … that in six weeks from today that this de-escalation measure will be in effect in at least two or three places in the country,” said General Oscar Naranjo on March 17.
An official of the FARC delegation confirmed on Monday that the plan is “progressing,” but gave no details.
“The names of the places to be initially cleared still cannot be revealed, because we must speak with the mayors first,” said a government source, who requested anonymity.
The government source said the parties hope to begin the mine clearance “early,” with the support of a “Norwegian agency that worked in Afghanistan” in the same task, according to Colombian news source Semana.
They will initially only clean some “points” as part of a “pilot plan” that will develop by December, said the delegate, adding that “they are points where civilians are, but remote locations.”
The commitment to clear landmines planted in at least 668 of Colombia’s 1,100 municipalities during the country’s conflict is the first to be implemented by the government and guerrilla group FARC.
The two parties have been in negotiation in Havana since November 2012.
Both sides have also reached consensus on rural reform, political participation and illicit drugs, but these partial agreements have not been implemented so far because negotiations Havana are based on the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Government figures say land mines caused 11,043 deaths and injuries to its people over the past 15 years. Of those, 4,226 were civilians.
Director of the Presidential Program of Protection Against Mines, General Rafael Colon stated in March that the government has a long-term demining plan.
“We will ensure that the country is free of mines by the year 2021, which is the date by which Colombia signed an agreement that obliges the state to free the land of mines,” said Colon.
Gobierno y Farc en el camino del desminado (La Nacion)