War Child: Peace in Colombia not yet in sight

War Child regards the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Juan Manuel Santos as a vital measure towards achieving peace in Colombia. The success of the peace dialogues is extremely important. War Child is confronted daily with the violence in which millions of children grow up. The Nobel Peace Prize is the result of many years of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. War Child welcomes recent developments but adds that these are merely some of the many steps that have to be taken.
07 October 2017

Violence remains an issue

Jan de Waegemaeker (director War Child Colombia): “Of course we are happy with these first steps in the direction of peace, but the violence remains an issue. In our team we see the fear and violence in which children live and grow up. Various other violent groups remain active in Columbia - complete peace is not yet in sight. As long as nothing is done about the drugs and arms trades, the illegal goldmines and the social and economic differences between the countryside and the cities, violence is likely to stay part of Colombia. This violence may affect children. War Child is concerned about the ongoing violence and therefore about the country’s future.”

Child soldiers

Over the last few decades armed forces have forced thousands of Colombian children to become child soldiers. For children it is still tempting to pick violence or quick drug cash - especially for those growing up in places with few better alternatives. De Waegemaker: “Many Colombian children are afraid for the violence that they experience in their neighbourhood, at home and at their schools. Afraid to have to flee again, and afraid to speak up, and express their feelings and thoughts”.

War Child has been active in Colombia since 2006. The organization currently has four projects running in nine locations in the regions Cauca, Putomayo, Chocó and Bogotá, in which thousands of children and adults participate.

Colombia is a country that is characterised by chronic violence. For more than 50 years this South American country has been heavily affected by armed conflicts between rebel groups, the government and criminal gangs.

Fighting rather than talking is unfortunately all too common in many areas in Colombia. War Child works together with children to improve their psychosocial wellbeing and to help them to cope with the violence they experience. Together with parents, guardians, teachers and the children themselves War Child works to protect them and shield them from recruitment by armed forces. 

Facts:

  • Almost 6.5 million Colombians, including millions of children, have had to flee their homes because of violence. Because of this, Colombia has one biggest internal movements of their population in the world;
  • In the last fifty years almost 250,000 people have been killed as a direct result of violence;
  • Since 1985 45,000 children have been killed in Colombia, 2.3 million children have fled their homes and 8,000 have been reported missing;
  • In the last three years more than 230,000 children have fled their homes because of violence and almost a thousand children have been recruited as child soldiers;
  • Sexual violence remains a big problem. In 2013 there were almost 18,000 cases of sexual violence against children and adults – 70 per cent of that number were girls under the age of 14.