Despite positive advancements, including progress on the implementation of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the Government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), the resumption of peace negotiations with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and dialogues with other armed groups, , a new report by the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), highlights an increase in grave violations against children in Colombia.

Overall, 615 grave violations were committed against children between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2023, which represents a 61 percent increase from the previous reporting period. The recruitment and use of 347 children remained the most verified violation, followed by killing and maiming, and abduction, the later impacting for 41 percent Indigenous and Afro-Colombian children. Living in remote rural areas, those communities are facing great humanitarian needs and are often affected by discrimination, while armed groups are fighting for the control of illicit revenues linked to drug production and trafficking, mining, and other natural resources, the report highlights.

Sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access increased from the previous reporting period.

‘I call on all parties to cease the recruitment and use of children, end sexual violence, and respect the sanctity of schools and hospitals. Protective measures for children must be implemented, particularly for Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including by facilitating the reintegration of children released from armed groups’, stated Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict.

Grave violations against children were mostly attributed to armed groups, while four percent were attributed to the Colombian Armed Forces. The FARC-EP dissident groups remained the main perpetrator, followed by the ELN and the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia.

The long-term and persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty and education, among others,  contributed to the vulnerabilities and risks of children to be recruited by armed groups, to be victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation and other grave violations.

Maintaining engagement and progress for children

The report details notable progress for children, notably through the implementation of the “total peace” policy and the advancement of peace negotiations led by the Government. In August 2022 the Ministry of National Defence also announced the suspension of aerial attacks against armed groups where children were suspected of being present and in November 2022 the Government endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration. Additionally, further national policies were adopted such as a national development plan, which includes strategies to prevent grave violations against children in armed conflict.

Reintegration of children separated from armed groups continued with 392 children enrolled in specialized programmes according to the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, while the Special Jurisdiction for Peace made progress on case No. 07,  regarding the investigation of cases of child recruitment and use by former FARC-EP within the framework of the armed conflict.

‘I welcome the progress made on accountability by the Government, including regarding transitional justice mechanisms and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Prevention efforts must continue to be implemented to allow children in Colombia to recover from the impact of armed conflict and build their own future’, concluded Virginia Gamba.

Full Report


Overview of grave violations

615 verified grave violations against children

Recruitment and Use: 347 children (232 boys,115 girls)

Killing and Maiming: 133 children (87 boys, 42 girls, 4 sex unknown)

Sexual Violence: 33 (3 boys, 30 girls)

Abduction: 44 children (32 boys and 12 girls)

Attacks on Schools and Hospitals: 41

Denial of humanitarian access: 16


For additional information, please contact:

Ariane Lignier, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict  (

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