Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute on Wednesday marked ten years of a program restoring rights for young people demobilized from Colombian illegal armed groups.
This program, unique in the world, has served the rehabilitation into society of over four thousand young people under the age of 18 for the past decade, reported the ICBF website on Wednesday.
The success results for the last ten years has lead the ICBF Director, Elvira Forero, to invite the Colombian and international community to join in the fight for the freedom of children and young people linked to illegal armed groups.
“Let there not be one more child doomed to such sacrifice and torture due to the absence of education in a society, family and country that tolerates this. We will not tolerate it, we condemn it,” proclaimed Forero.
Of the total number demobilized, 81% gave themselves up voluntarily to the authorities while 18.75% were ‘recovered’ by national security forces.
Of these numbers 3,014 were male and some 1,122 were female and from what can be deduced, they were all recruited into paramilitary and guerrilla factions from a very early age.
The ICBF works with the youngsters to reintegrate them into society by helping them back into their own families, foster care or an institutional home with the primary aim of restoring their rights.
The rehabilitation program is financially and technically supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Italian Cooperation and the International Organization for Migration (OIM).
To mark the tenth anniversary of the program, a concert will be held next Friday in Bogota where notable musicians will be performing.
It should be noted that neither government authorities nor NGOs are able to estimate how many underage fighters are currently trapped in the hands of illegal armed groups across Colombia.