More than 20,000 children have been forced from their homes in Colombia in the course of 2013, a report released on Tuesday said.
The report, based on government statistics, was made by Dutch NGOs War Child Holland and Free Press International, and Colombian PR firm Pandi.
According to its findings, an average of 89 children are displaced in Colombia every day, resulting in the displacement of 21,373 children in the first nine months of 2013.
Thirty-eight percent of the children displaced this year were younger than six, 35% between seven and 12 and the remaining 27% were older than seven.
Of the more than 5 million people, who over the past 28 years of conflict have been registered as displaced by NGO CODHES, 38% — or 1.9 million — were minors.
In the past, displacement was mainly carried out by groups associated with now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC. However, according to the report, the group responsible for most displacement in recent years was the FARC, the country’s largest Marxist rebel group.
“Between 2011 and 2013 we found that the FARC are the main cause [for displacement], followed by new paramilitary groups like ‘Los Rastrojos,’ ‘Las Aguilas Negras,’ ‘the Paisas,’ the ‘Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia’ (ERPAC) and the public security forces,” the report said, citing CODHES.
The forced displacement of Colombians is one of the most serious humanitarian disasters caused by the country’s ongoing 49-year armed conflict, which peace talks between the government and the FARC are hoping to bring to an end.
The Colombian government has begun processes that allow the return home of displaced people, but these attempts are undermined by illegal armed groups threatening and even killing displaced leaders.