Bogotá, Nov 15 (EFE). – The Ombudsman’s Office reported Wednesday 166 cases of recruitment of minors in Colombia so far in 2023, of which 75% were indigenous girls, boys and adolescents.
The highest number of cases reported in 2023 were in departments where the conflict is most intense.
124 cases were reported in Cauca and nine in Nariño, in the southwest of Colombia, six in Arauca, near the Venezuelan border, six in Putumayo, and five in Caquetá, both in the south of the country.
The official entity also warned that there is also a problem of underreporting, as families may avoid going to the authorities for fear of reprisals from armed groups related to displacement, threats and, in the worst case, murders.
“A very worrying situation persists,” the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo Assis said in a statement, also calling for “differentiated attention and coordination between administrative and ethnic authorities to strengthen preventive measures.”
The ombudsman activated a “case registration button” in 2021, and since then they have received 344 reports of recruitment.
The institution warns of an increase in cases in 2023, since of the 35 early warnings issued, 29 are related to the risk of recruitment or use of girls, boys and adolescents.
According to the institution’s report, FARC dissidents register the highest number of cases with 91.1%, followed by the ELN guerrillas (7%) and the paramilitary groups linked to the Clan del Golfo, Virgilio Peralta Arenas Bloc, also known as Los Caparros (0.6%).
It is worth noting that already in July, President Gustavo Petro announced the end of the ceasefire in the first half of this year due to the recruitment and subsequent murder of four indigenous minors in Putumayo by FARC dissident group EMC.
Also in July, the Ombudsman’s Office warned of the increase in the number of young people recruited by armed groups in the southwest of Colombia, exposing the population to displacement, threats and other attacks such as recruitment. EFE