Colombia: New Report Calls for Continued Efforts to Protect all Children Affected by Conflict

News and Press Release
Originally published

New York – In a new report on the situation of children affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his full support for the peace process and encouraged all parties to continue to address the impact of conflict on children. He also called on the Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to continue the current process of separation for all children under 18 associated with the FARC-EP and to ensure that their reintegration needs are addressed as a matter of utmost priority.

The report, covering the period from September 2011 to June 2016, is the third by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Colombia. The period covered by the report was marked by the peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP and the start of the implementation of the agreement on the separation and reintegration of children signed in Havana, Cuba on 15 May 2016.

The data presented illustrates that the peace process has contributed to a decrease in the number of violations committed against children, particularly towards the end of the reporting period. It also highlights significant advances related to the strengthening of the legal framework and the adoption of protection policies, although concerns remain about the challenges triggered by the presence of post-demobilization groups and the need to fill the gaps between policy commitments and implementation.

“I am heartened by the parties’ commitment to continue implementing the agreement to release all children associated with the FARC-EP, despite the results of the referendum,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “It is an important humanitarian trust-building measure and I join the Secretary-General in calling upon all those involved to do their utmost to provide adequate support and care to children and their communities who have suffered too much in this conflict.”

In his recommendations, Ban Ki-moon urged the Government of Colombia to redouble its efforts to strengthen family reunification, gender-sensitive protection and care services as well as support for communities receiving the children to ensure the reintegration process is successful in the long term. He pointed out the importance of providing socio-economic alternatives and psychosocial support to children to prevent their re-recruitment by other armed groups.

The report also welcomes the announcement of a roadmap for the peace talks between the Government and the Ejército de Liberacion Nacional (ELN). As negotiations are scheduled to begin this week in Quito, Ecuador, the Secretary-General invites the parties to consider including the issue of the protection of children as soon as possible in view of developing a commitment ahead of the demobilization phase.

“The agreement between the Government and the FARC-EP illustrates how the protection of children, the universal desire to build a better future for our children, can truly serve as an entry point to negotiate peace and it is my hope that what has been accomplished will be emulated in future negotiations in Colombia and elsewhere,” concluded Leila Zerrougui.

For more information please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay – Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1 212 963-8285
Mobile: +1 917 288-5791