Canada will donate $22 million to a program to improve the lives of Colombian children and adolescents, Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon announced Tuesday in Bogota.
The announcement followed a meeting with Canadian Work Minister Lisa Raitt and Canada’s ambassador to Colombia Genevieve des Rivieres, at which the representatives of the two nations discussed how to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The $22 million donation will be handled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Colombian NGO Fundacion Plan, which works in children’s welfare.
Garzon said that the principle objectives of the welfare program will be to provide 15,000 Colombian children under the age of five with access to education and to protect 6,000 adolescents believed to be at risk of recruitment by illegal armed groups.
The program will provide school lunches to 2,500 children and attempt to reintegrate some 60,000 minors displaced by Colombia’s internal conflict back into the education system. The promotion of the rights of the child, particularly in vulnerable youth populations in Cartagena, Bolivar, and Tumaco, Nariño, will also be on the agenda.
Colombian and Canadian representatives expressed their desire that their free trade agreement, now ratified by both nations’ Congresses, be implemented in the context of promoting respect for workers rights and labor laws. Colombia’s Congress recently approved the human rights section of the free trade deal and the agreement must now go before the Colombian Constitutional Court.
Both governments also agreed to work towards an “exchange of good practices” for indigenous citizens. Canada agreed to back Colombia’s bid to enter into the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.