The Colombian state is failing the millions of children who have been affected by the country’s half-century long war, a new report claims.
Released on November 8 by the Alliance For Colombian Children, the damning report urged the Colombian government to “have a greater culture of human rights” and “prioritize the girls, boys and adolescents” traumatized by the conflict.
18 recommendations were made in 2015 by the UN body of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to help reinstate rights of children affected by the war.
But the report, entitled ‘Childhood, victim of an armed conflict that still persists’, says Colombia’s government has not complied fully with any of the recommendations and claims the country was largely “indifferent” to children’s suffering during the conflict.
According to the report, some 2,382,086 Colombians aged 17 and under have been affected by the war, which ran from the 1960s until 2016, when the government signed a peace deal with the country’s biggest rebel group.
Children affected by the war were displaced, exposed to violence, sexual violence and other harm – such as land mines – or had their schools illicitly used by guerrillas or paramilitary groups.
The thousands of children recruited by illegal armed groups are not included in the 2.3 million figure as it is still not certain exactly how many children were taken on.
Colombia’s last standing major rebel group from the war, the ELN, has been accused of still recruiting children to fight against the state. The group this year denied this.
Children were a useful weapon during Colombia’s civil war, often brainwashed into working for armed groups by being made to work as lookouts or arms transporters and later killing machines.
Many others were displaced – a situation which often leads to poverty or relocation to areas which lack basic facilities such as safe water or schools.
Indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations are the groups most likely to have been affected by the conflict and also suffer the highest rates of poverty in the country.