Children and armed conflict in Colombia – Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/1022) – Colombia

New York, 12 January 2022 – The steady decrease in grave violations against children in Colombia since the signing of the Peace Accord in 2016 to 383 verified incidents is encouraging, but children nonetheless continue to suffer from the impact of hostilities put highlight a new report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the country released today.

the report covers the period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021, during which time Colombia continued to make progress in implementing the final agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.

“The decrease in violations is welcome. But we must remain cautious as the period also coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which impacted the ability of the United Nations to verify violations. And the fact that, despite an overall decrease in grave violations, children are still being used and abused by parties to conflict remains concerning,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

Girls have been particularly affected by grave violations in Colombia, accounting for a third (109) of all children (330) affected, which is more than the average for countries on the CAAC agenda (23%) .

By far the most significant violation was the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, including the FARC-EP splinter groups who were the main perpetrators, as well as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), with 220 affected children. The links between displacement and grave violations against children were also of concern, particularly threats of child recruitment forcing families to move. It was most common in the departments of Arauca and Meta. The Special Representative calls on all armed groups to immediately cease the recruitment and use of children and to release all children present in their ranks so that they can return to their communities and benefit from reintegration programmes. She further recalls that boys and girls associated with armed groups and forces must be seen first and foremost as victims.

The killing and maiming of 118 children was also confirmed during the reporting period, mainly as a result of gunfire, anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance, or air attacks. The Special Representative stresses that Colombia remains one of the countries most affected by the presence of explosive remnants of war; it calls on armed groups to end the use of indiscriminate explosive devices and encourages the government to intensify its demining and mine risk education activities throughout the country.

“In addition, all parties must take all necessary measures to protect children during military operations and activities, in accordance with international humanitarian law, in particular the precautionary principle,” added the Special Representative. “Armed clashes in areas where civilians and children are present must be planned and executed according to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution and to ensure the protection of non-combatants.”

Other grave violations were verified, including rape and other forms of sexual violence affecting 14 children, although the actual numbers are likely to be higher as this specific violation is known to be under-reported for fear of stigmatization, retaliation and lack of services for survivors.

Progress for boys and girls affected by conflict

During the reporting period, the reintegration of children released from armed groups continued, with 323 children enrolled in specialized programs according to the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare. In addition, the High Commissioner for Peace recognized 232 other former FARC-EP combatants as children upon laying down their arms and provided them with reintegration services.

The Special Representative further welcomes the progress made in ensuring accountability by the Government and the transitional justice mechanisms, in particular the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, particularly with regard to cases of sexual violence, recruitment and use of children and other grave violations, as well as additional and new policy measures. adopted to strengthen the protection of children and the prevention of violations.

“Prevention measures, including a new policy to prevent the recruitment and use of children and sexual violence against children, as well as a national strategy focused on identifying the risks of recruitment are steps in the right direction to strengthen the prevention of grave violations and strengthen the protection of boys and girls against them,” said Virginia Gamba. “My office and our United Nations colleagues in the field remain available to support the Colombian authorities in the implementation of these preventive measures.

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Serious violations against children between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2021

383 grave violations against 330 children

Recruitment and use: 220 children

Kill and maim: 118 children

Rape and other forms of sexual violence: 14 children

Abductions: 10 children

Attacks on schools and hospitals: 8 incidents (6 schools, 2 hospitals)

Denial of humanitarian access: 13 incidents

For more 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) / [email protected]