Colombia has endured decades of internecine conflict between armed groups including the national army, guerrillas, drug mafias and paramilitary organisations. The recent announcement of a ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group is keenly anticipated and encouraging - but dissident factions have vowed to continue fighting.
Children and young people growing up in Colombia remain at risk of recruitment into the various armed groups still active in the country. These groups include paramilitaries, drug cartels and criminal gangs. This conflict situation sees children grow up amid multiple violent threats to their safety - including murder, abduction and sexual violence.
Growing up in this pervasive atmosphere of violence leads to several negative developmental consequences for children and young people. Children are afraid to speak out and express their feelings and thoughts. A negative outlook on the future is inevitable - and this sees children turn towards violence. Suicide and self-harm are not uncommon. Young people enlist with armed groups out of a sense of hopelessness.
What we do
War Child Holland works inside Colombia to improve children’s psychosocial well-being and strengthen their capacity to cope with the violence they experience. Together with parents and caregivers, teachers, and children themselves, we work to boost protection mechanisms and prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups.
We also work with schools in the country to ensure that vulnerable children have a protective and safe learning environment. Psychosocial support, education and measures to boost children’s participation in local decision-making processes are frequently combined to ensure our interventions are as effective as possible.