Colombia is the only country in Latin America where landmines are still being emplaced, and it is also considered the country most affected by landmines in the Western Hemisphere. The severity of the landmine problem in Colombia is a result of the ongoing 40-year internal conflict among armed rebel groups. Illegal armed groups are responsible for placing over 80,000 mines in Colombia's rural areas. Of Colombia's 1,119 municipalities, one out of two is affected by mines across 31 of its 32 departments; essentially, half of the country's territory is affected. Colombia ranks fourth in the world behind Chechnya, Afghanistan and Cambodia in the total number of casualties from landmines. According to a 2005 fact sheet released by the Office of the Vice Presidency’s Anti-personnel Mines Observatory, Colombia is the fourth most mine-contaminated country in the world. On average, landmines kill about two people each day in the country. Government statistics show the total number of casualties from landmines to be 3,025 between January 1990 and August 2004. This number is not exact due to considerable underreporting. At least 37 percent of all reported victims are civilians and 39 percent of those are children. Social, political and economic development are all affected by the presence of mines.



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