Peace talks continue, thousands of children in Colombia still being displaced
The idea of a 'post-conflict' Colombia is currently causing lots of debate, as well as excitement and anxiety. The peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrillas, which began in late 2012, continue to inch toward an expected deal later this year. And last week it was announced that Colombia's second largest armed rebel group, the ELN, had agreed to begin a peace process to negotiate an end to their five-decade-long conflict with the government.
But despite real progress towards a peace deal, many children continue to be subject to violence and displacement. In the 3 years since peace talks between the government and FARC began, over 230,000 Colombian children have been forced to flee their homes, according to a United Nations report published in March. Displacement leads to many of these children living in under-developed areas of big cities, with limited access to water, electricity, health care and education. In these areas, like many other parts of Colombia, children are at risk of recruitment into armed groups and the level of sexual violence is high.
The UN report added that children will continue to be at risk of displacement, violence and abuse even if a peace deal is reached, and that unless these children receive the material and psychological assistance they need, the prospects of long-lasting peace will remain elusive.
We at Children Change Colombia strongly agree that a peace accord will not solve Colombia's problems overnight. "Colombia can only truly overcome the problems of violence, poverty and inequality if opportunities for peace and prosperity can be grasped by every single one of its young people, not just some of them," said Executive Director, Duncan Millar.
In recent years we have increasingly chosen to work with organisations that provide support to children impacted by the conflict, for example, re-integrating ex-child combatants into civilian life; preventing recruitment into armed groups; and working with victims of conflict-related sexual violence from indigenous communities in the Amazon region.
With your support we can continue to work with these projects and spend time researching which other issues are posing the greatest threat to Colombian children and find potential new partner organisations that are successfully addressing these risks.