Visit to Colombia – April 2000
The Special Representative visited Colombia from 7 to 9 April 2000 to attend the Thirteenth Ministerial Conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Cartagena. During his visit, the Special Representative spent time at the Nelson Mandela settlement outside the city, Home to an estimated 25,000 internally displaced people. He was able to assess at first hand the situation of internally Displaced Children in the region, following his longer visit to Colombia the previous year, and to consult with the main agencies working with displaced persons on the ground.
Over the course of the year the Special Representative had followed particularly closely the situation in Colombia regarding child soldiering. In December 1999, the Government of Colombia discharged the final contingent of 950 soldiers under the age of 18. In April 2000, after another appeal from the Special Representative, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said they had “committed an error’ in recruiting youth under 15 and had repudiated the practice. On 5 May, the Special Representative called on FARC to take verifiable concrete action towards demobilizing those children.