Total population: 48.6 million
Total population under 18: 14 million
Children affected by conflict: 2.5 million
Number of War Child projects in 2017: Five
Number of implementing partner organisations: Four
Number of partners providing funding: Three
Total child participants: 4,111 (2,028 girls and 2,083 boys)
Total adult participants: 3,201 (2,360 women and 841 men)
Why We’re There
Significant steps have been taken in recent years to hopefully bring Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict closer to an end. The 2016 formation of a peace accord between the government and revolutionary armed group the FARC was the most significant of these steps.
Yet Colombia is still a long way from being at peace. Right wing paramilitaries remain active in many parts of the country and FARC dissidents continue to battle government armed forces. Criminal groups have also moved to occupy territory vacated by the FARC - further fuelling the country’s war against illegal economies, particularly drugs.
This backdrop of violence and instability means that children and youth in Colombia continue to face a number of significant threats to their safety. The risk of recruitment into the various armed groups still active in the country persists. These children are recruited for purposes including information gathering, surveillance and direct involvement in hostilities.
Sexual and gender-based violence is another critical danger to youth. Armed groups and criminal gangs in Colombia use sexual exploitation and the threat of abuse as a means of maintaining control of areas they occupy. The majority of victims are female - including an increasing number of girls between the ages of ten and 14.
What We Do
War Child Holland works inside Colombia to improve children’s psychosocial wellbeing and strengthen their capacity to cope with the violence they experience. Together with parents and caregivers, teachers and children taking part in our programmes, we work to boost protection mechanisms and prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups.
We work with schools deep inside the most conflict-affected rural areas of the country to ensure vulnerable children have a protective and safe learning environment. Psychosocial support, education and measures to boost children’s participation in local decision-making processes are frequently combined to ensure our interventions are as effective as possible.
In the capital Bogota we are running pilot projects to both tackle problems related to urban violence and to promote youth engagement and employment. These needs have emerged as a result of the increasing incidence of violent conflict inside Colombia’s cities. We are also launching Youth Councils to improve the relevance of and engagement with our work.
Learning in Peace:
This project is designed to enable ‘at risk’ children and young people to enjoy improved protection and education opportunities.
Building a Better Future Together:
Project designed to facilitate the reintegration of former child soldiers and establish community-based child protection structures.
Post-Conflict Child Recruitment Prevention:
Initiative to set up protective and violence-free environments to enable children to build a future outside Colombia's armed conflict.
Connectivity and e-Learning Hubs:
Initiative to empower vulnerable youth through the use of ICT for life-skills training, vocational education and employment skills development.
Peace Bicycles Youth Centre:
Facility where youth can strengthen their resilience against the recruitment tactics of gangs and acquire peaceful conflict resolution skills.