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Program for Comprehensive Action Against Antipersonnel Mines

"So the Sky, the horizon, the plains,
the crests of Cauca make those speechless who behold them."
Maria, Jorge Isaacs, 1837-1895

The Aicma Program Vision PDF

Nearing the close of the first decade of the millennium, the Program for  Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines has evolved significantly. Since its inception in 1991, the program has been guided by an eminently humanitarian vision of reestablishing safe, secure, and productive living conditions for mine-affected communities, while considering developmental, human rights, and gender issues among its social aspects.

The program evolved in order to support affected communities in setting their goals and achieving their own vision of the future. Through its community liaisons teams, AICMA, along with local authorities and leaders, begins the path towards recuperation of both the individual and the community. Community liaisons evaluate in a comprehensive manner the needs of mine removal, education on mine risks, as well as on the physical, psychological, and economic rehabilitation of the individual and the community in order to anticipate requirements upon delivery of cleared lands.

This evolution of comprehensive mine action has been successfully applied in Nicaragua, and is being extended for the benefit of mine-affected communities in Colombia, and on a lesser scale, in Ecuador and Peru. Comprehensive mine action allows authorities, from the local to national level, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) associated with AICMA, to plan for and deliver services and resources needed by communities to achieve their own vision.

The projects presented in this Portfolio propose comprehensive action to assist the individual and the community, both threatened permanently or by humanitarian emergencies caused by antipersonnel mines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Each project proposes a specific solution appropriate to the evolution of the mine problem in each assisted country.

The AICMA Program

The AICMA Program implements OAS General Assembly resolutions, legitimized by a humanitarian consensus among 34 Member States, to assist affected countries in the development of their respective national humanitarian demining program.

Within the General Secretariat of the OAS, AICMA is responsible for all aspects of mine action, and the destruction of munitions, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and small arms. The principal responsibilities of the OAS General Secretariat, exercised through the AICMA Program of the Office of Humanitarian Mine Action, Department of Public Security, are fundraising, resource management, field progress evaluation, and diplomatic and political program coordination.

Fulfilling the Vision

Thanks to financial support from the governments of Belgium, Canada, Holland, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the United States; to contributions from the affected countries themselves; and to support from international monitors, the AICMA Program has been able, within the past year, to set projects in motion to address the landmine problem in Colombia, Nicaragua, and the border between Ecuador and Peru. For example:

  • As of July 2009, the Nicaraguan National Demining Plan reached 99% of its mined objectives, limiting danger to the departments of Jinotega and Nueva Segovia. National authorities registered 173,829 mines destroyed and certified. The number of communities within 5 kilometers of a mined field, originally placing some 550,000 at risk, by June 2009 had been reduced to 18 communities with 5,200 inhabitants. Mine risk education campaigns continued in Jinotega and Nueva Segovia, as well as in Managua and Matagalpa, reaching more than 20,500 inhabitants and 1,257 homes during the first half of the year. During the same time period, 715 assistance services were provided to 233 Nicaraguan and Honduran survivors. Comprehensive action has been completed via micro-enterprises for 490 survivors, and within those micro-enterprises, 29 were specifically designed for women.
  • Given that Nicaragua’s National Demining Plan has entered its final stage, the AICMA program will evolve towards supporting a downsized demining organization, dedicated to respond to emergencies in suspect areas. Comprehensive support for survivors will also continue, with an emphasis on social reintegration.
  • On the Peru-Ecuador border, by the Cóndor Mountain range, within the 18 months leading up to June 2009, 12 diverse objectives were completed in the Teniente Ortiz area, in the Ecuadorian province of Morona-Santiago. In Peru, operations continue on three objectives in the vicinity of Chiqueiza in the Amazonas department. During the same time period mine risk education campaigns were completed in 25 communities in Ecuador and one in Peru, reaching a combined total of 1,876 inhabitants. Similarly,28 victims from the two countries were supported in their physical and psychological rehabilitation needs, while the registry of survivors continued to be updated in Peru.
    • The relative density of the population in Zapotillo, Ecuador, adjacent to the Río Chira makes comprehensive humanitarian mine action a necessity. The humanitarian demining and mine risk education projects presented in this Portfolio propose permanent solutions to the threat of landmines for this affected population.
    • AICMA activity in Colombia has supported the clearance of 25 of the 35 mined fields under jurisdiction of the Armed Forces, all within a little over three and a half years. Indigenous populations in El Refugio and El Guayabero communities, Guaviare department, were able to take full advantage of cleared lands during the beginning of 2008. Similarly, a large area suspected of contamination in the town of Bajo Grande, department of Bolívar, was cleared allowing the return of 215 families and initiation of productive community projects supported by AICMA. By mid 2009, AICMA has conducted integral actions to assist communities in the municipalities of San Francisco and San Carlos in Antioquia; El Dorado in Meta; and Samaniego in Nariño. In addition to assisting in the removal of mines and explosives that forced the displacement of populations, AICMA implements mine awareness campaigns, identifies survivors, and conducts surveys to identify community needs through its community liaisons.
    • The dignified return of populations displaced by the threat of mines requires an intense amount of resources and services. Because of this, AICMA is expanding its victim assistance projects in Colombia to include the survival of the community through productive projects on a local scale. Specifically, the projects are geared towards providing micro-grants for the reestablishment of fractured socioeconomic structures. These projects demonstrate the real-life evolution of the program in that they are adapting to fit the needs of the local people.

    Having completed all stockpile destruction projects by 2004, consisting of the destruction of more than one million stockpiled antipersonnel mines in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, with financial contributions from Australia and Canada, the Program has extended its support to the destruction of the excess ammunition stocks of Member States.

    During 2007, in coordination with the OAS Mission for Assistance to the Peace Process (MAPP-OAS) in Colombia and financial support from the Governments of Canada and Italy, AICMA assisted in a project to destroy 18,000 small and light weapons surrendered to the Colombian Government by paramilitary groups as part of that country’s peace process. With Canadian and U.S. contributions, a new initiative was launched in Nicaragua from April to September 2007 to destroy excess and obsolete weapons; and thanks to Canadian support the initiative was renewed from February to March of 2008 allowing for the destruction of about half of all the excess munitions.

    AICMA promotes the interest expressed in the OAS General Assembly Resolutions to make the Americas a landmine-free zone. With financial support from the European Union, the program collaborated with the Nicaraguan Government and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining to create The Managua Workshop on Achieving a Mine-Free Americas which took place the 24th through the 26th of February 2009. This workshop was held in preparation for the Second Review Conference of the Party States of the Ottawa Convention, taking place from the 30th of November through the 4th of December 2009 in Cartagena, Colombia.

Projecting the Vision

As a natural evolution from mine action activities, AICMA initiated support to Member States in their efforts to destroy explosive remnants of war, excess or obsolete munitions stockpiles, and small arms and light weapons. Obsolete munitions present a hazard to surrounding communities. Major explosions have occurred due to fires, human error, electrical storms, instability of propellants or explosives, or sabotage. Many designated official storage facilities are inadequately managed or secured increasing the risk of these stockpiles falling into criminal hands.

The project for munitions destruction in the surrounding areas of the capital of Guatemala, and the decontamination of Las Palomas in Matagalpa department, Nicaragua, propose not only to destroy the munitions, but in the case of Las Palomas to also offer support for the social reintegration of the townspeople since most of these people previously lived off of the recollection of scrap metal for their economic vitality.

Resource requirements will continue to grow in order to address the urgent need to alleviate the suffering of individuals and populations internally displaced by the presence of mines and improvised explosive devices. The affected countries and communities already contribute from their precious resources and will. For AICMA, the need to alleviate suffering implies increasing its support to building national capability whether through training, equipment, operational and logistical support, support for victim assistance programs, mine risk education campaigns, or support to communities.

The projection of the AICMA Program vision requires active commitment from Member States affected by mines and other remnants of war, persistence by the international community, and constant support from international organizations. The OAS maintains its commitment, so that in conjunction with the donor community and the Member States, the vision of reestablishing safe, secure, and productive living conditions for mine-affected communities can be achieved. The commitment is to landmine survivors, so that they may be left speechless when they behold their community free of landmines and improvised explosives.




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