In addition to implementing the agreement with the FARC-EP, the Colombian Government has begun peace talks with the ELN. Watchlist urges the Government to consider children affected by armed conflict in the early phases of these discussions, and the ELN to put an immediate end to its recruitment and use of children.
Undoubtedly, Colombia has made great strides in advancing peace through negotiations with the FARC-EP and initial discussions with the ELN. Ensuring that children’s rights are protected and respected would help to consolidate these gains and create a lasting, sustainable peace. Relief Web
"So we should ask ourselves today what is the real future of the minors who leave the ranks? Where do those without families go or those whose parents are around the camps? What opportunities have been created for them? Where are the country schools?
"These days, in the cities I've been hearing words like the children should come back so they can become doctors, teachers, or whatever they want to be, to play, to do what a child, a girl, a teenager should be doing. But if there's no food, no games, no study and dreams land in opposite realities, where drugs, prostitution, poverty and hunger remain part of the alternatives to survive." Con la Oreja Roja
I was recruited at 13. I lived through some hard things. Sexual abuse, poverty, bad treatment from my mother. I had no one else. The FARC defended me when my mother tried to hit me, so I thought they were something good. I asked them to take me. In other places, a child dreams of becoming a doctor or a fireman. Where I grew up, the children dreamed of becoming guerrilla soldiers. They were the only authority figures we had. There was no other group, no NGO looking after the people there. I did not see any other option, so for me, the guerrillas were an escape from my parents and the poverty I was born into. Newsdeeply
Our first priority is the rehabilitation of children that have been involved in armed conflict,” Eamon Gilmore, the EU’s special envoy for the Colombian peace process, told EFE during a visit to the country. He insisted that the rehabilitation of these children is of the utmost importance, as it is a factor that could dictate whether the violence and conflict resurface. To this end, the EU is going to work in unison with UNICEF-run “programmes that will help reintegrate these children into society, their families and the school system”, Gilmore explained. Euractiv
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released on Monday April 10 three teenagers, bringing to 60 the total number of minors they handed over to the authorities as part of the peace agreement, reported the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Bolsamania
These children will now have a future. [...] Catherine, after a long process, reconciled with her mother, without forgetting her scars and is now working with two of her brothers. She, like many children who've come out of the tragic madness of the Colombian conflict, lives by a motto that inspires confidence in them and in a society which they no longer see as an enemy: "Only you can do it, but you can not do it alone". Actualidad DW
"We know that the children who were returned in Ituango are having difficulties with their families. We are looking at what the Government of Antioquia can do so that this link does not break. They came home and are a little disappointed," RCN Radio
Pastor Alape, spokesman for FARC, confirmed on a Caracol radio interview that the second group of minors, 23 of them, still in FARC camps will soon be handed over. He said that "temporary shelters are being sought for these minors in order to guarantee them their rights and so they can be covered by the peace agreements to avoid legal problems in the future." Caracol