There remain thousands of minors trapped in illegal armed groups throughout Colombia and the Government must accelerate demobilization processes for them, claimed a Welfare Institute Thursday.
Despite recent attention given to some 4,000 cases of minors who have been demobilized from illegal armed groups there remain thousands of youngsters in the Colombia jungle trapped as fighters for guerrilla and paramilitary factions, claimed the country’s Family Welfare Institute (ICBF).
The ICBF are currently in the process of collecting and assessing evidence to formalize charges against groups and individuals responsible for the recruitment of minors, claimed the Institute’s director Elvira Forero, in a report by Caracol.
Forero argued that coordinators of the national welfare system should also initiate actions before the International Criminal Court with regard to this child-soldier phenomenon.
“We are confident that the work performed by the Prosecution will soon lead to convictions in these horrific situations that children are facing in the jungles of Colombia,” the director stated.
“Each minor recently released, either because they escaped or were freed, have recounted how they were also cared for by children. Thus we need to take charge of prosecuting these illegal groups,” Forero added.
Records allege that the average age of youngsters who are recruited into the conflict in the jungle is between 13 and 17 years old. Some 72% are male and almost 30% are female.
Through the ICBF’s program of specialized care for youngsters recovered from the conflict 4,136 cases have been recorded over the last ten years. In 81% of these cases the youths left the rebel groups of their own volition.
Colombia’s department of Antioquia accounts for the largest number of these demobilized youths, 621.