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Conflict and consequences in Colombia


Map Colombia Duration of the conflict
44 years, the current conflict began in 1964

Nature of the conflict
Internal conflict with multiple actors: guerrilla groups, paramilitary organisations, government troops and criminal (drug-trafficking) organisations.

Humanitarian aspects
Human Development Index 20071: 75 (2006: 70) There were between 1.9 and 3.9 million IDPs (more than one million children) between 1985 and 2007 2. In 2007, 486 kidnappings 3 took place (a decline of 200 compared to 2006)4 and 13% of the land was cultivated with coca. 5 In 2006, 1,106 people 6 were killed or injured by landmines.

Child soldiers
Between 11,000 and 14,000 children were recruited as combatants by various armed groups.

Country's current phase
Development phase, however, many regions are in a state of chronic emergency / crisis.

Problems
Colombia is a relatively well developed country. The unequal distribution of wealth and high unemployment, however, leaves many children growing up in poverty and thus with a deeply rooted feeling of injustice and powerlessness. This makes them easy prey for recruitment by armed groups. As a result of the protracted civil war, many children have been witnesses to, victims of or even perpetrators of violence.

Colombian children

As a result of violence, more than one million Colombian children have had to leave their homes and have been confronted with poverty, lack of access to education and health care, psychological stress and child labour. The long conflict has made peaceful coexistence an unknown concept for several generations of Colombians and has created a permanent feeling of insecurity and distrust among the population. This greatly affects the relationships among people and the social structure of the Colombian society.

Children in armed groups
Children risk being recruited by illegal armed groups, especially in rural areas where combat regularly occurs and in the poor outskirts of the cities. Various illegal armed groups kidnap children or force families to 'supply' a child in exchange for protection. Children also join armed groups 'voluntarily' because of the hopeless situation in which they live. Extreme poverty, lack of education and jobs, the threat of being murdered, domestic violence and abuse make it seem somewhat attractive to join armed groups.

1 Human Development Index 2007: Human Development Index 2007: This United Nations index is a classification of countries based on their level of development (in terms of poverty, illiteracy, education, and life expectancy). 2007:
2The estimate of the Colombian government is lower; that of human rights group CODHES is higher, Website Internal displacement monotoring centre.
3Kantoor van de vicepresident: http://www.derechoshumanos.gov.co/index.php?newsecc=observatorio
4Office of the Vice President
5US Office of National Drug Control Policy
6Landmine Monitor 2007

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Ana María Jiménez from Coalición

Ana María Jiménez from local NGO Coalición in Colombia: “In close dialogue with the Colombian government we try to improve the situation of children in Colombia.”

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