The level of violence, both related and unrelated to the armed conflict in Colombia, continues to be very high. Violence has a tremendous impact on society and childhood and poses serious obstacles to humanitarian operations. UNICEF has been supporting and promoting actions aimed at preventing the recruitment of children and adolescents by armed groups. This is particularly a problem in the informal (or shanty) townships that have sprung up around Bogota, as rural families displaced by the violence have drifted to the “safety” of the city.
One element of the strategy to protect and discourage children from the advances of both paramilitary and guerrilla recruitment squads (which have pursued these folk to the shanty towns) is to promote sports, education for peace and systems of social coexistence among vulnerable adolescents. The contribution of these initiatives to the prevention of voluntary recruitment of youths into illegal armed groups is substantial, as it’s a demonstration of the value of a functioning and lawful society.
In an urban environment that is characterised by unmitigated violence, children are growing up knowing little else but the lawlessness and violence which the armed groups live by. “El Golombiao, The Game of Peace”. This was created in 2004 as a tool for promoting the construction or strengthening of social capital in adolescents and youths through the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the promotion of peaceful coexistence (constructive dialog among young people and between young people and their communities), the fostering of participation, recognition and respect for gender and ethnic diversity, both on and off the playing field, and the fostering of autonomy in young persons as actors in their own development.
One of the features of social programmes in societies that have a legacy of armed conflict is that social development programmes are not common. The disadvantaged in society do not receive much assistance from those more well-off. In order to address that in this instance, our programme is a $1 fo $1 arrangement between Morgan Foundation and UNICEF Colombia, with that local funding being required to be procured from the residents of Bogota. View photos here