Human Rights WatchColombia: Living with Landmines
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Edilberto Prada Ardila, a 46-year-old man who lost an eye and his hands to a landmine

Many adult men have been forced to abandon working in agriculture, cattle-ranching, or mining in rural areas after suffering landmine injuries. "I was a farmer-I raised yucca, corn, bananas, cacao. I was born and raised in the countryside. I expected to continue in the countryside," said Edilberto, 46, who lost an eye and his hands to a landmine and now lives off charity in the city of Bucaramanga.

Jimmy and his family had to leave their home after the FARC killed his father: "They accused us of helping the paramilitaries. They took him away and three days later we found him dead." The family was displaced again after paramilitaries arrived in the next town. To make money, Jimmy left his family and took a job working on a cattle ranch: "That way I would have money left over to study at the university. But I only lasted nine months" before being injured by an antipersonnel landmine.

Widowed after guerrilla groups killed her husband in 1991, Ofelia lost her leg when she stepped on a mine, and then lost her farm as a result: "I had a very pretty farm. but I had to sell it to pay all the expenses and to eat, since the children were small.... There was not a single person to help us, to give us some advice, to do something. And so you're left like that.. Once I tried to throw myself in the river because I was sick of my situation, with nothing to feed the children."

For indigenous survivors, adjusting to a life outside of their traditional communities can be particularly painful. Adelmo, a member of the Yanacona tribe, left his community after his landmine injuries made it difficult for him to do the walking and hard labor that life there entails. "Even if it hurts me in my soul to leave the region, I can't work like in the past."

Juan Miguel and Giancarlo used to work repairing electric towers in the state of Norte de Santander. One day they were called to repair an electric tower that a guerrilla group had blown up. Juan Miguel stepped on an antipersonnel landmine that had been placed on part of the electric tower. He lost his left leg and most of his right foot, and suffered hearing damage. Giancarlo, who was standing nearby, lost the sight in his left eye and suffered shrapnel injuries.

6. Javier A private benefactor helped Javier learn to paint despite having lost both hands and part of his eyesight to a landmine. However, the proceeds from his art are not enough to pay for his own housing, so Javier lives in an overcrowded shelter. He has been unable to receive government assistance for housing. "I have been in this shelter for over eight-and-a-half years," he told us. "I need to get out of here."

José Luis left his home in the state of Santander to find work in Cantagallo, in the state of Bolivar. One day, while clearing brush on one of his jobs, he hit a landmine. He lost most of his eyesight and part of his left hand. He also developed a fear of going into the countryside, lest he step on another landmine. He moved to the same overcrowded charitable shelter for displaced persons where Javier lives. "Like this, you cannot go back to the countryside," he said."You have to go to the city and find a way to survive." Like Javier, José Luis would like the government to pay more attention to victims' need for housing.

In 2005 Teresa's house was destroyed when the FARC launched gas cylinders into the town of Toribío in the state of Cauca. "They wanted the cylinders to land on the police station, but none of them fell there. Ten houses were destroyed." In August 2006, as Teresa was trying to rebuild her house, the FARC launched another gas cylinder bomb into Toribío. It hit her house again.