The implementation of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP which contained important child protection provisions contributed to a significant decrease in violations against children, highlighted the fourth report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) in Colombia.
Covering the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2019, the report showed that the total number of grave violations dropped to 850 compared to 2,078 for the previous report, despite the period covered a longer timeframe.
“The peace process in Colombia represented a landmark for the integration of provisions for the protection of conflict affected children, which my Office documented in the Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict to be published next month. I commend the Government of Colombia for its strong stance for the protection of boys and girls affected by conflict,” said the CAAC Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Virginia Gamba. “Nevertheless, more than 3 years after the signature of the agreement, children continue to be exposed to grave violations as other groups are occupying the space left by the withdrawal of FARC-EP.”
The reporting period’s highest number of violations occurred in 2018 (430), representing half of all verified violations within the reporting period. This upwards trend is a great concern and could be partly the result of an increased competition among armed groups for territorial control, particularly in those areas previously held by the FARC-EP. Insecurity continued to limit verification and humanitarian access in several departments.
The most prominent violation was the recruitment and use of children during the reporting period; children were also targeted for leaving the armed groups. Sexual violence remained a great concern and presumed to be highly underreported. The killing and maiming of children, some as young as five-years-old, was mainly caused by crossfire, indiscriminate attacks, direct targeting of children, bombing and accidents caused the presence of antipersonnel landmines, unexploded ordinance and improvised explosive devices. The Special Representative urged all parties to take additional extraordinary measures to protect children and prevent child casualties.
Despite persistent violations against children, some important progress marked the reporting period, including the establishment of a special reintegration program “A Different Path of Life” for children released as part of the peace process. The early warning system also allowed for the issuance of early warnings including 63 which identified contexts were children were at risk of recruitment and use by armed groups. The Special Representative also commended the Government of Colombia for preventing and responding to violations including with the prevention program “Mi Futuro es hoy”. She also welcomed the issuance of a new policy to prevent recruitment, use and sexual violence against children last November and urged the Government to allocate financial resources for the roll out of the policy in particular in conflict-affected areas.
Furthermore, she is encouraged by the advances in terms of accountability, notably case no. 007 opened in March 2019 by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which focuses on incidents of child recruitment and use.
“I call on the government to continue its efforts for the protection of children and to guarantee the implementation of the final agreement to ensure that all children who left the ranks of FARC-EP are effectively reintegrated, taking into account the specific needs of boys and girls. The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of Colombia and international partners to address the remaining challenges,” she added. She further encouraged Member States to support politically and financially the reintegration of released children, including through the Global Coalition for Reintegration of Child Soldiers, co-chaired by UNICEF.
Key numbers from July 2016 to July 2019 (all verified numbers)
Recruitment and use: 599 children
Killing and maiming: 186 children
Sexual violence: 17 children
Abductions: 16 children
Attacks on schools and hospitals: 24 incidents
Denial of humanitarian access: 9 incidents
Note to editors:
Parties to conflict in Colombia listed in the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict
List A – parties that have not put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children
- Ejército de Liberación Nacional (Recruitment and use of children)
* The FARC-EP was delisted in 2017 following the release of all children from its ranks.
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org