Children abused in Columbia – Adewale Sobowale

Photo Credit: Global Giving

Some children in Columbia still suffer from the impact of hostilities, according to a United Nations report.This is in spite of the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Government and FARC.

Viurginia Gamba, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), while welcoming a decline in violations – reminded that the reporting period between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2021 coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and it hampered the United Nations’ ability to confirm abuses.

According to her, “Children are still being used and abused by parties to conflict”.

The violations have especially affected girls. Girls accounted for one third of all 330 children impacted.

According to reports, the most prominent violation, which affected 220 children, saw them recruited by armed groups, including dissident FARC fighters, who were the main perpetrators, as well as the militant group, Ejarcito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN).

The linkages between displacements and grave violations were also serious especially with threats of child recruitment that forced families to flee.

The Special Representative called on all armed groups to stop recruiting immediately. She also urged them to stop using children and to release those in their ranks to their communities and participate in integration programmes.

She also said that boys and girls with armed groups and forces should be considered as victims.

The killing and maiming of 118 children were also verified during the reporting period. They arose mainly as results of gunshot wounds, anti-personnel landmines, unexploded ordnance and aerial attacks.

She also emphasised that Columbia remains one of the countries most affected by explosive remnants of war.

She advised armed groups to stop using explosive devices indiscriminately and encouraged the Government to scale up demining and mine-risk education activities across the country. She added that all parties should take all necessary measures to protect children during military operations and activities.

Other certified violations included rape, and sexual violence which were generally unreported because of the fear of stigma, retalistion and lack of survivor services.

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