Some 8,942 children and teenagers were recruited by different armed groups in Colombia from 1985 up until last month, according to recently updated figures compiled by the country's Unique Victims Register, or RUV, authorities said Thursday.
The figure was released by the Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims in keeping with international Red Hands Day commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which the recruitment of children and teenagers in armed conflicts is prohibited.
Of those 8,942 minors, two-thirds were boys.
The Colombian provinces with the greatest incidence of this phenomenon were Antioquia (20 percent), Meta (9 percent), Caqueta (7 percent), Cauca and Tolima (6 percent), Putumayo and Nariño (5 percent), Valle del Cauca and Arauca (4 percent).
The Unit also emphasized that the threat of recruitment into armed groups is one of the main causes of internal displacement of the population within Colombia, where the RUV says that 6.6 million people have fled their homes, a figure exceeded on the global level only by Syria.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas, who after more than three years of negotiations with the government could sign a peace agreement by March 23, announced on Wednesday that it would stop recruiting minors, although it did not specify whether it would dismiss minors already in its ranks prior to a definitive peace accord. EFE