The ombudsman for the central Colombian Meta department, Eduardo Gonzalez Pardo, expressed his concern over the growing number of children being recruited to illegally armed groups in the region, reported Colombian media on Friday.
The Meta official was made aware of the problem through research undertaken by various human rights groups and NGOs working in the area.
According to the investigations, there is evidence to suggest that a high number of young people in the department are disappearing due to forced recruitment into paramilitary and guerrilla groups.
The areas of Puerto Gaitan, Puerto Lopez, Acacias and Villavicencio were found to have the highest rates of child recruitment by armed groups in the department.
Human rights workers have called for action by the Colombian government to tackle the problem of forced child recruitment, to which Gonzalez has responded by promising investigation into the issue.
Country-wide studies show that the Colombian departments of Meta, Guaviare, Arauca and Casanare are worst affected by the growing phenomenon, due to the strong presence of guerrillas and paramilitaries in those areas.