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An update from Evaneos

Accessibility for disabled people in Colombia

The situation for disabled people in Colombia, a country where there are armed groups in conflict with the government, is currently critical, largely due to the presence of anti-personnel mines, which alone are responsible for most of the disability-causing injuries that occur, and which make Colombia the second worst afflicted country in the world with respect to this scourge.

The situation for disabled people in Colombia

Due to the use of anti-personnel mines and the effects of left-over explosives, the armed conflict in Colombia has created 10,000 victims since the 1990s and still, today, continues to cause harm and injury to the civil population, who face the danger of encountering mines on a daily basis. Although Colombia has been a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty, prohibiting the use of anti-personnel mines, since 2001, this has not solved all the problems faced by Colombians affected by a disability. Because most disabled individuals in Colombia are also amongst the poorest in the country and live in areas lacking medical services, they do not benefit from the aid their government is supposed to distribute to them as a result of signing the treaty, and they also have no access to healthcare, rehabilitation services or employment, whether due to economic reasons (the high price of healthcare) or administrative reasons (complicated application processes), or because of difficulties in accessing and making contact with services. There are around 4.5 million disabled people in Colombia. Ten percent of these are adolescents, most of whom are unable to attend school due to their disability.

Specialist organisations and high-profile actions aimed at improving the visibility of disabled people

Due to this omnipresence of disability in the country, various actions designed to encourage better integration of disabled people into society or increase their visibility have take place in Colombia. Very recently, for example, the country hosted the first ever open championship for disabled athletes, an event that brought together competitive sports people from across Latin America and the Caribbean. And in 2015, a young disabled footballer, born without a left forearm, joined one of the country's football teams. Corfrodis is a local organisation that works to improve the situation for disabled people by making healthcare, culture and education more accessible through the setting up of targeted micro-projects. Although all these things described are encouraging, you will come across very few sites and buildings adapted for disabled people during your tour of Colombia, which is a country that has only very recently opened up to tourism and where most of the hotels are not adapted for use by the disabled. The most accessible places tend to be the country's main cities, such as Bogotá et Medellín, whose broad streets and wide, open squares will make it easier for you to get around.

Bogotá's Primatial Cathedral (Catedral Primada)

Ségolène Renoud-Lyat
Updated 10 November 2015
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