Colombia has one of the highest incidences of child casualties from landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in the world. As a legacy of a thirty-year civil conflict between guerrilla groups like FARC and narco-traffickers, many rural areas are polluted by landmines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Because of the nature of the insurgency, which was designed to terrorize local populations and protect coca plantations, these explosive devices have been planted in schools, around water sources and even inside footballs and children’s toys. Although the signing of the historic peace accord in 2016 led to large scale demobilization of groups like FARC and ELN, criminal gangs have moved into the vacuum created and the threat of violence in rural, poverty-stricken areas has in some cases increased.
Spirit of Soccer has been operational in Colombia since 2015 and operates two Mine Risk Education teams in five districts in two of the worst affected communities in the country, working closely with the national mine action agency Descontamina Colomba.
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