Half of the victims of Colombia’s armed conflict are under 26 years old, a report released by the Inspector General’s Office revealed on Monday.
Citing statistics from 139 municipalities between 1985 and 2013, the report indicated that of the more than 6 million victims of Colombia’s armed conflict, approximately half, were under the age of 26.
The report was released by the Inspector General’s Office in the southwestern state of Valle del Cauca, and presented at the second meeting of “Mayors for Children, Adolescents and Youths.”
In statement released Monday, the Inspector General’s national office stated that the report was developed with the intent of, “bringing attention to the rights of minors in the municipalities specified, and raising awareness about the imperative for peace.”
The report’s findings raised several areas of concern, most significantly how current peace negotiations between the Colombian government, and the guerrilla group FARC, fail to address the issue of minors involved with the armed conflict.
Other issues that continue to constitute a threat to minors included forced recruitment of children by armed groups, widespread use of sexual violence by armed groups, the existence of land mines and unexploded ordinances, and the inability of the government to hold the criminally responsible accountable.
In addition, it was noted that there is limited documentation of these cases, making it difficult for authorities to measure how widespread these problems are.
The Inspector General’s Office relied upon 38 indicators to evaluate the rights of minors in the specified municipalities.
Those most “critical” factors in determining the well-being of minors were access to health services, free education, vocational training for adolescents and youth-oriented, as well as the prevalence of sexual violence, displacement and drug abuse.
The report concluded that rights of the children and adolescents who were victims of Colombia’s long-standing armed conflict should be at the center of any post-conflict scenario,
“The best indicator that Colombia is on the correct path to peace, is to create a protective environment that allows them to fully exercise their rights.”
The report was compiled using evidence from the National Department of Statistics and the Victim’s Attention and Reparation Unit.
More than 6 million Colombians, 12% of the country’s total population, has been directly or indirectly victimized in the country’s ongoing armed conflict.
The armed conflict has cost the lives of a reported 220,000 Colombians since 1958.