Colombia: armed conflict jeopardizes children’s safety

Colombian soldier inspects the Samaniego crime scene in southwestern Colombia  Colombian soldier inspects the Samaniego crime scene in southwestern Colombia elmundo/Teller Report

02 October 2020

Colombia witnessed a rise in rural massacres and recruitment of children in armed groups 

Recent reports provided by the humanitarian organization, Save the Children, indicate that there has been a surge in violence in rural areas of Colombia. Families are desperately claiming that their children are either being actively murdered or recruited by local armed groups. Politicians who are in opposition to the current government have stated that the executive administration is virtually looking the other way while these atrocities are happening daily.

The numbers reflecting these events are tremendously alarming. Since January, Colombia has witnessed a total of 65 massacres within its national territory and as a result, 260 people have lost their lives. Moreover, the average number of massacres  has doubled from five in the first half of the year to 11 in just the last three months. Most recently, on August 15th, the massacre of Samaniego in the Department of Nariño left eight students dead. 

Children and adolescents have become a prime target by paramilitaries because of the demoralizing effect it has on the community and overall society. They murder children to terrorize and displace the local population from their productive lands in ordern to control the area. Recruitment serves a similar purpose with the objective to further prolong a pattern of violence within the population. 

The worldwide pandemic has also contributed to the vulnerability of children. Because of the amount of school closures and suspension of protective services, the targeting of children by these armed groups has become quite easy. In a battered economy, parents are thus forced to venture out of their homes seeking to make a living for their families, while their children stay alone at home. To fight against this horrifying trend, Save the Children is working alongside local social leaders, who try to raise awareness of the ongoing violence. 

Furthermore, Michele Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called upon the Colombian government to intervene in the ongoing violence. She has also been an avid critic of the executive administration’s failure to implement the 2016 peace accords thus contributing to an endless violence. However, Colombian President Ivan Duque still seems to ignore the opinions of the international community, and views other topics to be of more importance. 

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Author: Sergio Gomez

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