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Colombia

Enabling children to build resilience and fulfil their potential, free from trauma and violence

Children

Colombia has endured decades of internecine conflict between armed groups including the national army, left wing guerrillas, extreme right paramilitary groups and criminal gangs. Peace Dialogues took place from 2012 to 2016 between the state and the largest guerrilla group - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - to help boost peace building efforts.

These efforts culminated in the formation of a peace accord between the government and the FARC in August 2016. This first agreement was put to a plebiscite in October 2016 where it was rejected by a slight majority, due to objections over the amnesty terms offered to the FARC, amongst other issues. A revised peace accord was signed in November 2016 and formally ratified by the country’s congress in the same month.

FARC rebels have begun to leave their camps and begin the process of demobilization and disarmament, under the watch of United Nations. Formal peace talks between the state and the ELN - the country's second-largest armed rebel group - have also been scheduled at the time of writing.

Despite these various peace initiatives, significant threats to the safety of children and young people in Colombia remain. The risk of recruitment into the various armed groups still active in the country persists. Murder, abduction and sexual violence all remain very real threats to the safety of Colombia’s youth. The psychological burden of this context of fear and violence is significant.

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 taking part in our programmes, 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.