Victims of Weapons Contamination Still Standing

Publié: 20 novembre 2014 4:43 CET


By Lina Paola Díaz, Communication Coordinator, Colombian Red Cross

“The resilience we saw today through beneficiaries experiences is not only a concept, it is a reality” - Global Community Resilience Forum

Dignity, empowerment, resilience, victims’ rights, where some of the key words during the visit to the municipality of Palmira in Valle del Cauca, where more than 20 participants of the Global Community Resilience Forum had the opportunity to speak with some beneficiaries from the Weapons Contamination Programme, led by the Colombian Red Cross through a consortium with Spanish Red Cross and the Spanish Agency for International cooperation (AECID).

“During the 9 months that I have been in rehabilitation (amputation of the leg?), the only institution that has provided support to me and my family, that has shown me my rights and has accompanied me during my medical treatment is the Red Cross (..) I am happy  because now I play sports and I am planning to study” says Luis Ortiz*, participant of this programme in Valle del Cauca.

Luis is one of 700 direct beneficiaries of the programme, which is present in 7 departments of the country, and seeks to mitigate this phenomenon in Colombia, considered the second country in the World with the largest number of victims from Weapons Contamination. According to figures from the Presidential program for Integral Action against Antipersonnel Mine, between 1900 and March 2014 10682 victims have been registered in the country as a result of this result.

Weapons contamination is the result of the presence, use and abandonment of different types of artefacts, in the context of armed conflict or situations of violence; like antipersonnel mines, explosive remnants from wars and improvised explosive artefacts, that affect millions of people each year the world over.

Through methodologies related to games, volunteers and staff members of the Colombian Red Cross carry out workshops in the community that seek to communicate the international norms and national education on risk, psychological and community first aid, analysis of vulnerabilities and capacities and safe behaviours. These workshops allow communities to identify areas of risk and indicators of Weapons Contamination. “If I become a Red Cross volunteer, I would like to tell other victims about the rights they have,” assures Yohana*, another of the beneficiaries presents during the visit.

*Names withheld to protect identity of the people interviewed.