BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – Clearing the landmines in Colombia after the peace agreements signed by the government and the FARC guerrilla group should not take decades, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams said.
Williams, a 65-year-old American who has campaigned for a ban on landmines and cluster bombs around the world, participated in the “La paz por que y para que” (Peace: Why and For What) seminar organized by the Autonomous University of the Caribbean.
The removal of landmines in Mozambique took 10 years, Williams said.
Comparing the peace agreements in El Salvador and Colombia, Williams said implementation of the accords in the Central American country was fast, thanks to the focus on disarmament.
In March, the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group agreed on the removal of landmines.
The armed forces and the FARC will carry out joint mine-clearing operations with the assistance of Norwegian People’s Aid, or NPA.
Officials estimate that more than half of Colombia’s municipalities have mine fields.
Landmines have killed and wounded more than 11,000 people in Colombia, which ranks No. 3 on the list of countries with the most landmines, trailing only Afghanistan and Cambodia.
The weapons have been planted in 31 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, the United Nations says.
The government and the FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest leftist guerrilla movement, signed a peace agreement on Aug. 24 after nearly four years of negotiations.
President Juan Manuel Santos declared a cease-fire with the FARC at midnight on Aug. 29.
Colombians will vote in a referendum on Oct. 2 to decide whether or not to approve the peace deal.