Thousands of Colombians participated Sunday in a friendly race in the northwest city of Medellin in the "Lend Your Leg" run, focused on the victims of landmines in the country in the wake of a long-running civil war.
The race was organized as a follow-up to different events to commemorate the United Nations International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, marked on April 4.
With the slogan "Run for a country free of landmines," the event boasted the participation of more than 3,000 people, including about 300 survivors of land mine incidents in the Antioquia department, the most affected area in Colombia and where Medellin is located.
Since 1990, 11,479 people in Colombia have been killed by landmines, according to the United for Colombia Foundation, which rehabilitates victims affected by landmines. From this figure, 7,028 were members of the government forces and 4,451 were civilians.
Although Colombia's government and demobilizing FARC rebels have agreed to a plan to clean up land mines, experts say that it will take Colombia at least a decade to clear all of its mines from its rugged terrain. Authorities report that mines are present in 700 of Colombia’s 32,000 local municipalities.
With more than 11,400 people killed by improvised explosive devices since 1990, Colombia is second only to Afghanistan for landmine casualties, according to government numbers.
In 2015, the Colombian government and the FARC first agreed to work together to remove land mines during peace talks in Cuba, ahead of the signing of the final peace agreement last year.
After initiating the peace process with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's largest guerrilla, joined a process of demining in the country. The National Liberation Army, or ELN, will continue its peace process in dialogues in Cuba and Ecuador.