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May 1, 2017

JICA, Cambodia Help Demine Colombia — Great Expectations From Colombian President Who Won Nobel Peace Prize

photoA slope where illegal armed groups buried landmines. Demining is necessary on agricultural land
photoCMAC plans to provide technical cooperation on demining methods
photoThe raising of mine detection dogs for humanitarian demining begins
photoA member of CMAC gives a passionate presentation at a seminar in the Colombian capital of Bogotá

Colombia has ended over 50 years of conflict with FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, an illegal armed group). In October 2016, President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts toward peace.
However, the effects of the conflict spanning half a century are still apparent and problems remain to be solved.
One of those problems is internally displaced persons said to number 7 million.
One of the factors preventing people from returning to their hometowns and restarting their lives is the landmines that were buried in large numbers during the civil war.
So that Colombians can live in peace on safe land, JICA is working to support mine action in the country.

Like Colombia, Cambodia has suffered severe damage from landmines because of an internal conflict. JICA has provided assistance to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) since 1999. CMAC, the Cambodian government’s mine action agency, works to remove landmines in the country along with the army and NGOs. This work reduced the number of annual victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance in the country from 1154 in 1999 to 111 in 2015.
CMAC’s activities are not limited to Cambodia; it has engaged in South-South cooperation activities with the assistance of JICA and is supporting other countries with problems related to landmines and unexploded ordnance.
In Colombia, the mine action agency DAICMA (Dirección para la Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal) asked JICA to ask CMAC to share its expertise. (In 2010, in partnership with CMAC, JICA implemented South-South cooperation with PAICMA, a predecessor organization of DAICAM. However, because the internal conflict was still going on, it was difficult to carry out full-fledged cooperation on mine action, so the cooperation was ended in August 2011.)
There are high expectations for the expertise and experience of CMAC. The Colombian government places so much faith in CMAC that Mr. Santos calls it the world’s No. 1 demining organization. People who work on the front lines of demining in Colombia said especially they wanted CMAC to share its expertise on mine detection dogs.

Against this backdrop, from late February to March 1, a joint mission of JICA and CMAC visited Colombia. It visited minefields and training centers and explored the direction of future assistance.
At a seminar in the capital of Bogotá for people involved in mine action, CMAC Deputy Director General Oum Phumro said that in Cambodia, former combatants from different armed groups became deminers after the conflict and worked together on demining under CMAC. Without building trust with communities affected by landmines, you cannot carry out surveys and demining activities, he said. Mine action is closely connected to the recovery of communities, confidence-building and the promotion of reconciliation, he explained, stressing the significance of CMAC's assistance and the importance of its relationships with communities.

Humanitarian mine action has just begun in Colombia, but JICA is deepening ties between Colombia and Cambodia and supporting peace and stability together with CMAC, so that people can live without fear of being injured by a landmine and live securely on safe land.

photoAkira Nakamura, Director General, Department of infrastructure and Peacebuilding, JICA (far left), and Eri Komukai, senior advisor, JICA (front row, second from right). The deep blue uniforms worn by Colombian officials show they are engaged in demining as civilians rather than engaged in military activities. The participants wearing light blue shirts are from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre. (Oum Phumro, deputy director general, is on the left in the back row)


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