The situation of Colombia’s indigenous communities continues to worsen due to the forced recruitment of indigenous children by guerilla groups the FARC and ELN, reports investigative website Verdad Abierta on Thursday.
Verdad Abierta quotes the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia’s estimate that between 450 and 500 indigenous children have been forcefully recruited into illegal armed groups.
Earlier this year, according to the report, four cases of the forced recruitment of indigenous youths in the departments of Huila, Vaupes, Choco and Guaviare were cited by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya.
Anaya said that the government hasn’t responded to the issue of forced recruitment with the necessary urgency, and demanded that the state do more.
According to the U.N. report, the guerrillas continue to recruit children. One of the most serious pieces of evidence of child recruitment was the discovery of a video in which ELN commander “Alejandro” sought to persuade a group of indigenous people to join their ranks.
In February it was reported that the FARC were forcefully recruiting indigenous children to be spies in Colombia’s southern jungles.
According to Fabian Acevedo, the governor of the southern jungle department of Guaviare, the forced recruitment of minors, especially from indigenous communities, has risen.
Similar situations have also been reported in the Huila department, where the FARC’s 66th Front tried to recruit students between the ages of 10 and 13 from schools. According to Colombian General Henry William Torres, the lack of reporting from the communities has prevented authorities from grasping the scope of the problem.
Late last year, Colombian human rights NGO CODHES issued a report on the state of Colombia’s indigenous communities. The report argued that numerous indigenous tribes across the country were at risk of going extinct as a result of the ongoing armed conflict ravaging the region, explaining that the risks posed to the communities have risen substantially since 2004.
Colombian illegal armed groups from across the political spectrum have been known to recruit children.
In April, it was revealed that Colombia’s Justice and Peace Commission had received 2,700 cases of minors recruited by paramilitary group the AUC.