Anew book published by the Commission Against the Use of Children and Young People in the Armed Conflict of Colombia (Coalico) has reported that at least fourteen thousand children have been recruited by rebel groups, while the nation’s secuirty forces use them as informants.
“The invisible crime: Criteria for the investigation of the illegal recruitment of children in Colombia” reveals that one in every four combatants are under 18 years of age, and enter the armed ranks from as young as seven.
Caracol Radio reports that expert Ana Maria Diaz said that children under 18, who make up 20 to 30 per cent of illegal armed groups, are used not only in military tasks, but for everything from kitchen helpers to informants.
“All groups involved in the armed conflict, as well as state forces, use children for intelligence tasks, from bringing information to informing,” Diaz said.
The book notes that there are known to be at least 2,000 children working with the paramilitaries in Colombia.
Furthermore, according to the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), about 3,000 children have separated from all armed groups in Colombia over the past six years.
The book warns that the world today there are over 30 serious situations which violate the rights of children due to armed conflict; countries mentioned include include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Colombia.
Experts say that many children are deceived into entering armed groups, while others see the war as a way of life and become lost in it.