Updated 03:07 AM EDT, Wed, Oct 28, 2020

Colombia FARC Rebels Will Cease Recruiting Minors

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Colombia's FARC rebels have promised to no longer accept minors to join their ranks. This was in line with the ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government to end the conflict that has spanned over five decades.

The Colombian government and the leftist FARC rebels are currently undergoing peace talks to put an end to the conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people, most of them civilians. Human rights groups have already decried the group's forced labor on child soldiers -- children as young as 17 years old.

In an earlier statement, the FARC rebels said that they will cease recruiting youth younger than seventeen years old. Furthermore, the leftist rebels said that they will return child soldiers under 15 years old as reported by BBC.

The report said that until last year, FARC rebels have recruited soldiers, both male and female, as young as 15 years old. Since then, FARC has raised the bar to seventeen years of age. The Colombian government has since then also decided to treat captured child soldiers as victims instead of militants.

In previous arguments, the FARC leftist rebels said that the government failed to give these child soldiers the decent living accommodations that they need. Poverty is still a main issue in the country and the rural poor are being forced to live under such marginalized conditions that are unfit to be lived in. The FARC rebels also accused the government of illegally recruiting over 500,000 minors in poor rural areas, oftentimes by force.

In the past, the FARC rebels have said that many of their child recruits are the children of the FARC rebels themselves. Some of their child recruits also joined the FARC army after being orphaned.

However, many of these former child soldiers said that they were taken from their homes and forced to fight. Many have escaped. Many were as young as 11 years old. Many have also escaped. 

According to Fox News Latino, the FARC said from now on, they will only be recruiting adults into their armies and that they expect the Colombian government to ensure that the rights and protection of children in armed conflict are being upheld and prioritized.

The FARC rebels also challenged Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos to make do on his election campaign to put a stop to all obligatory military service as well as ensuring that minors are not being forced into battle.

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