“My dream is to finish my studies and join the navy so I can travel the world,” says Harold, 15, leafing through the pages of an atlas he received as part of an EU-funded project in Guaviare, Colombia.
He belongs to the Piratapuyo tribe and lives in an area historically affected by conflict, where several non-state armed groups fight for control.
In this context, being indigenous means living in the line of fire. Indigenous identity and resources are strongly linked to the land that armed groups often want to control to carry out illegal activities.
Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable, at risk of being recruited and drawn into drug abuse and trafficking.
Even going to school is a challenge: the path is full of landmines, fighting between armed groups, and the risk of recruited. In 2022 alone, more than 268,000 children and adolescents faced violence or conflict-related risks, and over 8,000 children have been recruited since 2016.
The EU works with Diakonie and its local partners to provide protection and education activities for some 6,000 indigenous children and adolescents in 7 departments of Colombia heavily affected by the conflict. Because every child deserves access to education.