Around 9,000 children were recruited into paramilitary groups when they were still under 18, according to figures from Colombia’s victims register.
“Like any kid, I loved weapons. The camp was in Chocó. We arrived during the night and were introduced to a girl with a torch who said: ‘I like this,'” Carlos, just one of several hundred minors recruited by paramilitary Freddy Rendón Herrera, known as the German recalls.
“I spent seven years sleeping in the mountains, I learnt how to use weapons and to fights, but when one of my compatriots got taken ill I would look after them as I was trained as a first aid nurse.”
The same report has revealed that 32,247 suffered forced displacement due to armed groups. Families chose to relocate in an attempt to protect their children from the influence of armed paramilitary groups.
The Colombian Institute for Familial Wellbeing (ICBF) outlined that around nine percent of the children it has helped were of indigenous origin. Seven percent were of AfroColombian descent.