Colombia has endured five decades of armed confrontation between the national army, guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug mafias and other armed groups. Even today many children and young people continue to experience violence and intimidation first hand, and live under the constant threat of the conflict. Many are forced to leave their homes. The internally displaced population in Colombia is one of the largest in the world. Even with the recent announcement of a definite cease fire, the number of violations of children’s rights has not dropped.
Children are recruited by armed groups, face attacks by criminal gangs or have fled from violence. As a result of the conflict, children are afraid to speak out and express their feelings and thoughts; they are frustrated and have a negative outlook on the future. Children themselves turn toward violence, enlisting with armed groups out of a sense of hopelessness. Suicide and self harm are not uncommon. Even with the recent announcement of a definite cease fire, the number of violations of children’s rights has not dropped.
What we do
In Colombia, War Child works to improve children’s psychosocial wellbeing and strengthen their ability to cope with the violence they experience. We support schools to ensure that children have a protective and safe learning environment. Together with parents and guardians, teachers, and children themselves, we work to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups. War Child provides extra-curricular activities and psychosocial support through I DEAL, which allows children to express their emotions, learn to deal with the things they have experienced and regain trust.
“NO” is the only answer children and young people should give to armed groups. In War Child’s prevention programme, young people are empowered to make their voices heard. On a theatre stage, they tell the compelling stories of their experiences, hopes and dreams. Their audiences are teachers, principals, mayors and policy makers who have the power to influence the situation of children. Through the programme, young people can start to believe in themselves again and find their way out of the violence.