Kolumbien: Friedensgespräche machen Minenräumung möglich
Mehr als ein halbes Jahrhundert lang litt Kolumbien unter einem blutigen Bürgerkrieg. Nun machen eine Waffenruhe und aussichtsvolle Friedensgespräche Minenräumprojekte in den umkämpften Gebieten möglich und der Präsident gibt ein ambitioniertes Ziel vor: minenfrei bis 2021 (auf Englisch).
SAN RAFAEL, Colombia - Kneeling down in the middle of a minefield, Noralba Guarin uses a spade to scrape away the hard red earth on a remote wooded hillside in southwestern Colombia.
Sweating under her protective anti-explosive vest and shatterproof mask, she searches for landmines, a deadly legacy of 52 years of civil war in Colombia, one of the most mine-scarred countries in the world.
"I never imagined I'd be looking for mines," said the widow and mother of two young children as she hacked away at vegetation near the village of San Rafael in Colombia's province of Antioquia.
War forced Guarin to flee her home twice, once aged 13 to avoid being forcibly recruited by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and years later when rebels threatened her again when she was heavily pregnant.
Now Guarin works for the British-based Halo Trust, a demining group, clearing the mines the FARC planted in their fight against government troops.
"At the start of the day, the first thing you think is that I know that here in front of me, there could be mines where I haven't yet cleared," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"I have to be cautious and careful and follow what I've been taught and trained to do to the letter," said the 26-year-old, who started her demining job a year ago.
In the surrounding rolling countryside guns have fallen silent and the bombing raids have stopped following a bilateral ceasefire signed in June between the government and rebels.
This brings Colombia ever closer to signing a full peace accord to end half a century of war and Latin America's longest-running insurgency. A final deal is expected within weeks.
But as Colombia emerges from decades of war, the enemy remains - in the form of landmines that lurk beneath the soil.
Getting rid of mines in Colombia - a land of mountains and jungle terrain - is a key challenge facing the battered nation and is a crucial for rural development and tackling poverty.
It's a task experts estimate will take a least a decade.
After Cambodia and Afghanistan, Colombia has the third highest number of landmine casualties, with 11,440 people, including civilians, children and soldiers killed or injured by landmines since 1990, government figures show.
Most of the landmines have been planted by FARC fighters in rural areas to push back army troops and destroy their morale.
The drug-running FARC rebels have also planted mines in and around coca fields - the raw ingredient of cocaine - to protect their valuable crop.
Often made from empty glass bottles of rum, coffee and tuna cans, and plastic tubes filled with sulphuric acid, homemade mines have been a cheap, and easy to make, weapon of war.