Search

 

Cablegate: Successes and Challenges: Humanitarian Demining In

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8585/01 3522059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 182059Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0538
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9691
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9136
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5727
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 8194
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0995
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6428
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4228
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008585

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR WHA/AND AND PM/WRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PARM PHUM PREF CO
SUBJECT: SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES: HUMANITARIAN DEMINING IN
COLOMBIA

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) A November 12-17 visit by PM/WRA program officer
reviewed progress of USG-supported humanitarian mine action
(HMA) projects and next steps. The GOC's recent
restructuring of its civilian HMA management shows renewed
commitment to demining issues, and receives high marks from
international donors. Two U.S.-funded emergency humanitarian
demining missions by Colombian military platoons are slated
for areas formerly controlled by the FARC. Social services
and landmine victim assistance are being targeted through GOC
and local civil society participation. Still, the continuing
conflict and weak coordination among the HMA community
continue to pose challenges. For the second year in a row,
Colombia has the highest number of mine victims in the world,
with Colombian military the primary victims. END SUMMARY.

----------------------------------------
RESTRUCTURING GOC LEADERSHIP IN DEMINING
----------------------------------------

2. (U) PM/WRA program officer Edmund Trimakas visited
Colombia November 12-17 to monitor progress of USG-funded
humanitarian demining and victims' assistance projects, and
to explore areas for future assistance. In addition to
PM/WRA's demining assistance, SOUTHCOM's HMA is funding
training of a demining platoon and a new Mine Action Center
(MAC) in the Colombian military (COLMIL's) Engineering
School, due to open in February 2008. The MAC will facilitate
improved data entry and management, mine risk education and
interagency/civil society coordination. USAID's Leahy Fund
will also contribute to rehabilitation services,
socio-economic training, and capacity building.

3. (SBU) Training and implementation of USG-funded emergency
response humanitarian demining teams (funded since 2006) have
been slow, due in part to the bureaucracy of the Organization
of American States (OAS) and safety concerns associated with
demining in areas of conflict. Officials from the
Presidential Program for Integrated Action against
Anti-personnel Mines (PPAICMA) and the Colombian military
indicated renewed GOC commitment to address humanitarian
demining issues. Formerly called Observatorio de Minas, the
PPAICMA is now headed by Andres Davila who transferred from
the Ministry of Planning and is highly regarded by civil
society. Despite bureaucratic obstacles, Davila told us he
is preparing the groundwork to launch new initiatives.

4. (U) The Demining Department in the Colombian military's
School of Engineers controls the GOC's four demining
platoons, each composed of 40 soldiers. PM/WRA funds two
platoons for emergency humanitarian demining while the
Government of Canada funds two for conventional humanitarian
demining units (i.e. Colombian military mines). The funding
for both is managed by the OAS. The GOC will create a third
emergency humanitarian demining in 2008, for a total of five
platoons, and hopes to create three more platoons in 2009.
Major Goyenache, head of the Demining Department, said the
GOC's goal is to complete its Ottawa convention agreement to
remove all Colombian military mines ahead of the 2011
deadline and shift those platoons to emergency humanitarian
demining work.

-------------------
DEMINING FARC AREAS
-------------------

5. (U) A USG-funded platoon is conducting its first mission
to clear over 200 UXOs mines from two fields near San Jose de
Guaviare, in response to an indigenous community's request to
clear the sites. Sixteen members of one family were injured
after bringing home a grenade as part of a scrap metal
collection. The reclaimed 23,074 square meters will be
turned over to the indigenous community on December 13.

6. (SBU) Underscoring the inherent difficulties of
implementing HMA during conflict areas, initial plans to
deploy a platoon to Ricaurte, Narino were put on hold when
the survey team encountered FARC activity in the area.

PPAICMA is now shifting its activity to San Francisco in
Antioquia department. San Francisco has the third highest
number of mine victims in the country; 70 displaced families
are expected to return to their homes after the conclusion of
the demining mission. Survey teams composed of
representatives from PPAICMA, COLMIL, OAS, and International
Demining Monitors have proposed additional impact studies in
Santa Rosa (Bolivar) and Necocli, Cocorna, Dabeiba,
Guadelupe, and Caracoli (Antioquia). PPAICMA will continue
to evaluate conditions for demining missions in Narino.

7. (SBU) In early November, President Uribe mandated an HMA
operation in Montes de Maria, an area where the GOC has
scored important successes against the FARC, including
killing FARC leader Gustavo Rueda (aka "Martin Caballero").
A second USG-funded platoon recently completed training and
will begin its mission in December - a six-month project to
clear the town of Bajo Grande and surrounding areas from
which the FARC had displaced over 300 people. General
Mantilla, commander of the Corozal military base told us the
platoon must be airlifted the last five kilometers to the
area due to unsafe road conditions. PPAICMA is working with
the GOC's Coordination for Integrated Action (CCAI) and
Accion Social to provide road repair, school construction,
electricity lines, and sanitation services once the mines are
cleared.

8. (U) Centro Integral de Rehabilitacion de Colombia's
(CIREC) Seeds of Hope program will also fund advocacy
programs, support groups, and vocational training for
landmine victims in the Montes de Maria region through PM/WRA
funding. PM/WRA's $300K assistance will fund rehabilitation
brigades to rural areas, providing medical assessment,
physical therapy and custom-made prosthetics. CIREC director
Jeanette Perry de Saravia told us they are working to raise
public awareness of the plight of landmine victims and
international cooperation on HMA. A full-page article in
Colombia's daily El Tiempo on September 8 and a public event
that week attended by Vice President Santos were positive
steps.

----------------
CHALLENGES AHEAD
----------------

9. (SBU) Civil society and donor nations expect PPAICMA's new
leadership to address the weak coordination among the HMA
community. PPAICMA and COLMIL officials expressed concern
over the lack of access to the OAS' demining budget and
planning, while OAS officials countered that the GOC's
priorities do not always reflect an urgent need. A new,
full-time OAS HMA Director based in Bogota is expected to
facilitate communication between the GOC and OAS.

10. (U) For the second year in a row, Colombia has the
highest number of mine victims in the world. Colombian
military on active duty remain the primary victims of
landmines, totaling 60%-80% of all cases. The International
Committee for the Red Cross notes, however, that civilian
mine incidents are underreported as many civilian victims
live in remote rural areas, are poorly educated, and are
unsure of reporting procedures. GOC and civil society sources
said mine incidents are highest where FARC activity exists. A
Human Rights Watch report this year stated the FARC and ELN
are responsible for the majority of antipersonnel mines in
Colombia.
Brownfield

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC