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Returning precious land in Colombia: Leo Varadkar visits land cleared with support from Irish aid

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Colombia
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HALO
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Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland Visits HALO in Colombia

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of Ireland, visited Colombia in March as part of a South America state visit, and to officially open the Irish Embassy in Bogotá. During his time in Colombia, the Tánaiste had the chance to visit HALO’s operations as well as meet with other Irish Aid partners operating in Colombia.

Ireland has been supporting humanitarian demining in Colombia since 2018 and, thanks to their support, more than 1,780 people have benefitted directly or indirectly from landmine clearance in rural Colombia. Communities previously affected by landmine contamination can now walk through their territories without fear of hidden explosives ordance.

Minister Varadkar visited one of the minefields being cleared by Irish Aid funded teams in the municipality of Pradera, Valle del Cauca department. During the visit, the Deputy Prime Minister had the opportunity to see firsthand the humanitarian demining process that saves lives not only in Colombia, but around the world.

Minister Varadkar met with demining and non-technical survey staff from the region whom work tirelessly to help rid their communities of the threat of landmines. He also had the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries of HALO’s work, including indigenous elder, Luis Angel Perdomo, who thanked Ireland for their support and explained the true benefits that demining has brought to their sacred lands, lands that are intrinsic to their culture and way of life.

The visit was accompanied by the Pradera Government Secretary, Claudia Lucumí, who has supported HALO in humanitarian demining since HALO’s arrival in Pradera. Claudia emphasized how humanitarian demining has contributed to the development of the region.

Thanks to the support of the Government of Ireland through Irish Aid, HALO Colombia has cleared more than 50,000 square meters across Colombia, where today, communities historically affected by the conflict and landmine contamination can live without fear.