11 Feb 2016
New York – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, welcomes yesterday’s confirmation by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) that they will stop the recruitment and use of children under 18.
“I am heartened by the FARC-EP’s public announcement and, as the peace negotiations are progressing, I am pleased to see that the protection of children continues to receive the attention it deserves,” declared Leila Zerrougui.
The FARC-EP had initially expressed its commitment to end underage recruitment during meetings with the Special Representative last fall in Cuba. Ms. Zerrougui travelled to Havana twice in 2015 to discuss the protection of children affected by the armed conflict with the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, the two negotiating parties to the Colombian peace talks.
In the coming months, with the prospect of the implementation of the peace agreements, it will be important to ensure that adequate services are available for children separated from the FARC-EP and that they are treated primarily as victims in accordance with national and international standards.
The best interest of the child and international protection standards should be the guiding principles to ensure that reintegration programmes are sustainable and address the specific needs of all children, including orphans, girls, and those coming from Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.
The Special Representative reiterated that the UN stands ready to provide support as needed to the separation and reintegration process of all children under 18 associated with the FARC-EP.
“I am now looking forward to seeing boys and girls released and resuming a normal life,” concluded the Special Representative. “I call on all those involved to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of children during the separation process, to protect their rights as victims and to prevent their re-recruitment by other groups.”
For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,+1-212-963-8285 (office), +1-917-288-5791 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org