CaMINA Award, a recognition for landmine victims in Colombia

From left to right: Mario Jesús Gonzalez (VICMA), Martha Guerrero (Network of Women from Chaparral), Jana Zikmundova (Ambassador of Belgium), Marcel Lebleu (Ambassador of Canadá), Alvaro Jiménez (Colombian Campaign Against Landmines), Mileyni Ramirez (ASOVIVIR), Adelmo Uni (ASODESAN) y Christina Plazas Michelsen (Reconciliación Colombia).

Bogotá, December 6, 2018

The Embassies of Canada and the Kingdom of Belgium, with the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines and the support of Reconciliación Colombia, held the ceremony for the second edition of the CaMINA Award (Walk, in Spanish), a recognition of local organizations that work to promote the rights of landmine victims and to empower them.

Three organizations were recognized by the CaMINA Award: the Association of Survivors Victims of Antipersonnel Mines and Unexploded Artifacts (ASOVIVIR) from Norte de Santander; the Landmine Victims Foundation (VICMA) from Santander; and the Network of Women from Chaparral (Tolima). The three organizations carry out mine risk education activities, as well as actions to support, accompany and guide landmine victims regarding their rights and how to access available services. These organizations are created by victims, who work for the rehabilitation and social and economic inclusion of other victims.

Mileyni Ramirez, legal representative of ASOVIVIR, received the CaMINA 2018 Award. Visibly moved, Mileyni said that she was overwhelmed with joy by this recognition: "I am the only woman, and the youngest, in our organization, representing a battalion of men. I am thrilled, and I thank you and all the members of ASOVIVIR." In 2014, Mileyni lost her leg in an accident caused by a landmine. Since then she has remained strong, not only leading ASOVIVIR, but also advancing her university studies and becoming a mother.

As part of the award, ASOVIVIR will receive COP$ 10 million (Can$4000) to continue its work in the violence and conflict-affected Catatumbo region. In addition, thanks to Reconciliación Colombia and its partners, ASOVIVIR and the VICMA Foundation will receive mentoring to strengthen their organization.

The ceremony was hosted by the Ambassador of Canada Marcel Lebleu, the Ambassador of Belgium Jana Zikmundova, the Coordinator of the Colombian Campaign against Mines Alvaro Jiménez, the Director of Reconciliation Colombia Christina Plazas Michelsen and Adelmo Uni of ASODESAN, winner of the CaMINA Prize in 2017. Guests included representatives of organizations that carry out mine action activities in the country, civil society, government representatives and the diplomatic community.

The CaMINA Award was created in 2017 to commemorate  the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty that banned the production and use of landmines and other non-conventional devices.