Latin America: No more children in war
23 February 2017

Translated: "I never want any children on the planet to suffer." (Jesuit Refugee Service)
We consider it necessary that the countries of origin tackle the root causes of migration, by improving the quality of life of children and their families, eliminating the inequalities that generate violence, and generally safeguarding the rights of migrant children throughout their journeys.
Bogotá, 23 February 2017 - The Jesuit Refugee Service, in its mission to "Accompany, serve and advocate for" the victims of forced displacement in Colombia and for refuge-seekers in Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico, calls for a greater awareness of the alarming situation of children and young people in border areas and for guarantees from Governments that they will be duly protected from any involvement, recruitment and violence in these areas.

We consider it relevant to pay particular attention to the border between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, where there continues to be critical numbers of children and young people forcibly migrating to these areas with their families, in search of protection, inclusion and access to human rights, which puts them at risk of being recruited, or involved in the conflict. These areas lack adequate services and infrastructure and suffer from the persistent warfare in Colombia, which has spread to the neighbouring countries and particularly affects children and young people.

Furthermore, the situation of forcibly displaced children and young people from Central America is a real challenge for human rights, as the situation in their countries of origin, such as Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, with widespread violence, no access to education or medical services, among other things, forces the children and/or their parents to migrate. Their difficulties persist throughout their transit towards the United States or Mexico, where they are often the victims of discrimination, social exclusion, extortion and violence, both from governmental agents and from criminal cartels. 

For 15 years now, people all over the world celebrate the "Red Hand Day" on the 12th of February, commemorating the signature of the Optional Protocol against the use of children and young people in armed conflicts. The aim is to protest against any involvement and recruitment of these vulnerable persons in the war, and to call upon Governments to take concrete and efficient measures to safeguard the rights of all children and young people.

We therefore wish to draw attention to agreements between governments, or other initiatives, that can potentially increase the risk of recruitment, use and involvement of children and young people in dynamics associated with the conflict or with organised crime. In particular, we call for work to be carried out on existing gaps in the law and in protection more generally, in order to favour the restitution of the rights of children and young people in the region.

We also encourage governments and civil society to analyse these old, unattended humanitarian challenges in the border areas, and to create spaces where binational preventive action and protection can be offered, in particular to mixed migrant groups, which are numerous, disorganised and do not receive the required attention, leaving their children, young people, women and families exposed to danger.

We consider it necessary that the countries of origin tackle the root causes of migration, by improving the quality of life of children and their families, eliminating the inequalities that generate violence, and generally safeguarding the rights of migrant children throughout their journeys.

We are committed to life, and we therefore add the voice of JRS throughout Latin America, in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico, to say NO to the recruitment, NO to the involvement and NO to the use of children and young people in the armed conflict. 






Press Contact Information
Diana Rueda
responsable.informacion@sjrlac.org