Landmines have killed 2,341 people in Colombia and injured 11,581 since 1990, according to the Colombian government. The nearly 60 years of internal conflict between the Colombian Military Forces, leftist groups, right-wing paramilitaries, and drug cartels has turned Colombia into one of the world’s most-mined countries, according to the United Nations. This made the country an international reference when it comes to landmine removal. That’s why, according to Colombia’s Minister of Defense Diego Molano, a team of Colombian soldiers will travel to Europe to train their Ukrainian counterparts on demining techniques.
“Colombia, as always, is committed to the values of freedom and human rights and in this case making a concrete contribution as a member and global partner country of NATO,” said Molano, after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who invited Colombia to send the troops to Ukraine. “This training will be given by 11 military engineers who will go to a NATO member country, which is a neighbor of Ukraine,” Molano said via Twitter without clarifying which country.
On May 23, U.S. President Joe Biden officially designated Colombia as a major non-NATO ally. Recently, Molano signed an agreement with NATO on a partnership program under which NATO supports Colombia in its efforts to develop its Military Forces while the South American country provides demining training to NATO allies, Anadolu News Agency reported. “This training will be in doctrine, techniques, and tactics of military demining. The aim of this effort is that, as has happened in Colombia, military demining can free municipalities from the scourge of war, but at the same time prevent more lives from being affected in the future,” Molano tweeted.
Russian soldiers and Ukrainian authorities both have said they will clear landmines from various locations in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion launched by Russia in February, Reuters reported. Ukraine will need five to seven years to clear its entire territory of mines and unexploded ordnance, Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Meri Akopyan said May 21. “We now estimate that some 300,000 square kilometers of territory is contaminated. If we assume that one day of active fighting is equivalent to 30 days of demining, according to the most optimistic forecasts, we need between five and seven years for total clearance, as of right now,” she said.