February 12, International Red Hand Day to Stop the Use if Child Soldiers
According to the Colombian government, officially there is no internal armed conflict. However, according to the UN, Colombia is the second country with more internally displaced persons in the world. We are currently talking about 3 million people, who fleeing from violence, or expelled from their lands due to business and multinational interests, have been forced to abandon all and move to another part of the country, to start their lives again from scratch and on some occasions, in very poor conditions and with no security guarantee.
According to the Colombian Constitutional Court of Justice, 50% of the displaced are under 18 years old. In this difficult context, children are the most vulnerable part of the population. Very often, they suffer the death of a relative, abandon, ill treatment or violence or even a high chance of being enrolled in the guerrilla as fighters.
The Colombian Ministry of Defence estimates that around 8.000 children take part in military actions with the guerrillas, while NGO estimations talk about11.000. But the Children´s rights committee has denounced the use of children for intelligence activities by the Colombian army, although the country´s legislation forbids it.
Entreculturas is a member of the Spanish Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, that on February 12, has launched a communiqué in which it demands the Colombian government to comply with the resolutions of the UN Security Council regarding children in armed conflicts, as well as the rest of international agreements on minors.
Entreculturas encourages education as a peace strategy in Colombia
Entreculturas has been working in Colombia for the past 40 years with the Popular Education Movement, Fe y Alegría and the Jesuit Refugee Service. The priority is to promote children´s access to school since it believes that education is the tool that will allow them to develop in a climate of peace, stability and respect and will enable them to become in the medium term, transforming agents of their society. The main lines of action of Entreculturas in Colombia are the following:
Increase and improvement of education: construction of new school infrastructures, improvement of the existing ones and improvement of education coverage.
- Strengthening of the education process: monitoring education offered with special attention to teacher training, family implication in the education of their children and elaboration of didactic materials adapted to each context (cultural and lingual).
- Community Development: attention the population context of the schools in order to provide children with a peaceful environment, with stability, respect and solidarity. Support to the civil organizations that watch over these values and for the community´s development. Also non formal education projects to facilitate the youth's insertion in the job market.
- Working with displaced persons: accompaniment for the displaced population in all aspects that affect the person: human rights, financial sustainability, emotional stability and social integration as well as strengthening a culture of peace and non resentment.
- Working with child soldier issues: through the Jesuit Refugee Service, Entreculturas is a member of the COALICO (Coalition Against the Joining of Children and Youth in the Colombian Armed Conflict). The JRS promotes a strong campaign to end child participation in war and promotes assistance programmes for children especially vulnerable to be captured by the guerrilla or for drug traffic activities.
Jon Montoya, SJR Colombia Director
"In Colombia, the SJR works for children to have a normal development with education so they may build a Colombia in peace". Read the interview
Interview to María
"Children should never use a weapon, children should use a book".
Link de interés: