(Photo: El Universal)

Three teenagers have escaped from the FARC and turned themselves in to the national army in southwestern Colombia.

Three child guerrillas defected from the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, and handed themselves over to the Colombian army in the town of Tambo in the southwestern state of Cauca on Tuesday, according to a national army report.

Lies and trickery

The three children were aged between 15 and 16, and two of them were brothers. They voluntarily turned themselves in to the Third Division of the national army and expressed a fear of reprisals by the leaders of the FARC.

An official statement said that they had been recruited by “terrorists from the mobile column Jacobo Arenas of the FARC through lies and trickery.”

“Mistreatment, deception, and the constant fear to die in the middle of combat, were some of the reasons they had to plan their escape from the guerrilla camp,” read the army statement.

Childhood innocence stolen by the FARC

“The twin brothers, 15, never lost their hope to meet their family again,” the report continued.

The commander of the Apollo Task Force, said, “It is of a great importance to recover those boys and girls who have been subject to war calamities; those children, whose childhood and innocence have been stolen by the FARC, shall have all guarantees as needed for their emotional recovery. Our work is to forge a new future for those brave children who have dropped the arms.”

The FARC has long been known for its controversial and condemned use of child soldiers to boost the ranks of its guerrilla columns.

Child recruitment nothing new

The Group for Humanitarian Attention of Demobilized People (GAHD), working with the Colombian Ministry of Defense, released a report in March stating that Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, along with the smaller ELN, have recruited 1,387 children in the past two years.

MOREColombia guerrilla groups recruited 1400 child soldiers since 2011: Report

The Colombian regions with the most reports of child recruitment are Putumayo and Nariño, which border Ecuador; and Huila and Meta, in central Colombia.

Furthermore, desertion among the child ranks of the FARC is nothing new, and the same report stated that between January 2002 and March 2013, 3,870 children and young people, roughly 30% of which were girls, deserted their guerrilla ranks.

The FARC has been engaged in peace talks with the government since November 2012 in an effort to end half a century of internal conflict.


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