A report published by the Washington Post revealed that the Farc guerrilla has intensified its recruitment of minors in an effort to bulk up their combat units, even as they sit at the negotiation table with the Colombian Government in Havana, Cuba.
According to Alma Viviana Pérez, director of the presidential Human Rights Program in Colombia, “as the guerrilla suffers blows from the Colombian Army and the desertion of its militants, the “tactic they have resorted to is the recruitment of minors”.
It’s unknown just how many children are a part of Farc, but it’s been suggested that there could be as many as 9,000. In the past 12 years, the Colombian Government has helped more than 5,000 children who have managed to escape the clutches of guerrilla groups, mainly Farc, and 500 of those minors are in special orphanages for former militants. “It’s a silent tragedy, one without concrete data,” says Maria Fernanda Cruz, coordinator of Merrcy Corps; she said the phenomenon has increased over the past three years.
Farc chiefs, meanwhile, have publicly denied committing war crimes and insist that children and teenagers join their ranks looking for an escape from conditions of extreme poverty.