January is the month when the most of amount of minors are recruited into armed groups, according to the Ministry of family Welfare. The recruiters take advantage of the Christmas school break.
Green Party Senator Gilma Jimenez called on the representatives of the four guarantor countries in the current FARC-government peace process, Norway, Cuba, Venezuela and Chile, to intervene and raise the issue of child soldiers.
“If the FARC do not return the children recruited, i.e. abducted for war, the [peace] process is illegal, unlawful, unethical and immoral,” said Gilma Jimenez.
It is unknown whether the topic of child soldiers and their release has been discussed in Havana.
It is hard to track the number of children in illegal armed groups. However, between November 16, 1999 and November 30, 2012, 5,052 girls, boys and adolescents have passed through the Ministry of Family Welfare’s program for former child soldiers.
Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón estimates the number of FARC men at 8,000 whereas 12 years ago, there were about 20,000.
Pinzón estimates the ELN has 1,500 men whereas it had 4,000 in 2000.
A general in the Armed Forces, Tito Saúl Pinilla, has said the FARC will try to pressure negotiations in Havana by carrying out terrorist acts. The FARC announced in November that they would cease hostilities until January 20, but the government’s army says the FARC have broken the truce several times.