“I would like to become a nurse or a doctor,” says Mariana, an indigenous girl from Colombia. She is an student of “El Refugio”, an EU-funded school for indigenous children managed by our partner Diakonie in the Guaviare department.
In Colombia, students living in isolated and long-marginalised rural areas have been indiscriminately and disproportionately affected by armed violence. In 2022 alone, more than 268,000 children and adolescents faced conflict-related violence or risks.
In every conflict, children and adolescents bear the brunt. They are exposed to kidnappings, murders, displacement, or forced recruitment, which hinder their access to adequate education and inflict enduring psychological trauma.
Indigenous and Afro-descendant children and adolescents often reside in areas that non-state armed groups consider essential for their illegal operations. Their dreams of receiving an education, having a better future, and helping their communities may be unattainable due to the violence.
According to the Colombian Public Ministry, since the signing of peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, some 8,246 children have been victims of forced recruitment. Of these, 9.2% belong to indigenous groups and 6.6% are Afro-descendants.
The EU funds Diakonie and Benposta to facilitate access to education for indigenous children and adolescents in conflict-affected areas of Colombia. Their work aim to prevent forced recruitment and help children regain a sense of well-being.
Story by Ruth Silva, Information and Communication Assistant for Latin America and the Caribbean, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 12/05/2023