In Colombia 4,136 Children Left Illegal Armed Groups In The Last Ten Years
By Dialogo November 13, 2009In Colombia, in the last ten years, 4,136 minors broke ties with illegal armed groups of leftist guerrillas and extreme right-wing paramilitaries, according to a report issued by the state Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF). The figure was made public by the state entity as part of the commemoration in Bogotá of the tenth anniversary of the program serving children who have broken ties with the internal armed conflict that has plagued the Andean nation for more than four decades. The institute’s task basically consists in providing psychosocial care to the minors in order to heal the wounds left by the war and in providing support for their primary and secondary education, and even for higher education. For its part, a report by the Colombian police indicated that according to estimates by non-governmental organizations, between 8,000 and 13,000 children and adolescents are members of illegal armed groups. The document explains, nevertheless, that “determining exact figures is complicated to the extent that cases of illicit recruitment cannot be pinned down, given the lack of police reports and the low profile of the guerrilla groups in this activity.” For its part, a study of the illicit recruitment of minors published in 2008 by the Maya Nasa Foundation in conjunction with the Vice President’s Office and the ICBF indicated that in Colombia, between 15 and 20% of the members of illegal armed groups are children. According to this study, the principal group responsible for recruiting minors is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Communist guerrilla group). The document also reveals that the principal tasks assigned to children in the rebel group are those of highest risk, like the manufacture and use of explosives and antipersonnel mines, as well as making up the first security ring around the group’s camps and in its armed encounters.