DDG to start non-technical operations in ColombiaThe Danish Demining Group (DDG) has just received accreditation for its Non-Technical Survey (NTS) team to start operations in Colombia. That means that the organization can now assist the local population in creating a safer environment in the country with the highest contamination and number of victims in Latin America.
DDG Colombia advances positively in its mission to carry out Land Release in the municipalities and areas affected by Antipersonnel Mines and other Explosive Remnants of War, as assigned to DDG by the National Mine Action authority: Descontamina Colombia. By conducting NTS, DDG can determine and map contaminated areas and encourage safe behavior where contamination has been confirmed. Most importantly, it will support the rights of the local populations to the land that has for so long been suspected of contamination, thus not productively used and will consequently support the economic development of rural communities in Colombia. The accreditation is an important stepping stone for DDG’s humanitarian mine action operations in Colombia.
"This has been received in a great way by the community of San Jose del Fragua and especially by the indigenous areas, as their areas were affected by the conflict that took more than 50 years. This will be the first step to ensure that their ancestral lands are freed from the suspicion of mines’’, says DDG Operations Manager Juan Pablo Manríquez during a meeting carried out in the Yurayaco reservation.
Over five decades of conflict with armed groups (AGs) has led to mine and explosive remnant of war (ERW) contamination in Colombia. Anti-Personnel mines have been planted along key access routes, schools and other strategic locations allegedly to frighten, confine or displace local communities, to get access to their land and natural resources as well as protect drug transport routes, illegal mining sites, plantations and processing factories. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are particularly affected. The use of improvised explosive devises (IED’s) has increased since 2000, making Colombia the country with the highest contamination and number of victims in Latin America
Building community trust is key to the successful implementation of any kind of mine action activity in Colombia, especially in indigenous and rural areas, where exploitation and mistrust have pervaded the communities throughout the years of conflict and demands to design and implement acceptance strategies and a need for a strong community liaison all over the operations to guarantee participation and access.
Operations in Zone 1 of the Municipality of San José del Fragua, Department of Caquetá were initiated on April 9th, 2018. The NTS Team passed the Accreditation Test only a month prior to starting operations with the supervision of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Non-technical survey = The initial process of determining, mapping and marking contaminated areas, through collection and analysis of data. In addition, the teams provide information about areas where contamination has been confirmed and encourage safe behavior among the local residents.