Guerillas, Paramilitaries, Drug Cartels Colombian Gangs Are Using the Pandemic To Exploit Youth

With schools closed as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, many children in Colombia no longer have a safe haven. Paramilitaries and drug gangs are taking advantage of the situation to bait or forcefully recruit adolescents for their criminal operations.
By Klaus Ehringfeld in Mexico City
School children in Toribío, Colombia: Criminals in the country are increasingly recruiting children and young people

School children in Toribío, Colombia: Criminals in the country are increasingly recruiting children and young people

Foto: Jaime Saldarriaga/ REUTERS
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Regional conflicts are flaring up again in many regions in Colombia, and children are often exploited as fighters.

Regional conflicts are flaring up again in many regions in Colombia, and children are often exploited as fighters.

Foto: Luis Robayo/ AFP
School children in Toribío (archive photo)

School children in Toribío (archive photo)

Foto: Jaime Saldarriaga/ REUTERS
Many former FARC rebels are taking up arms again.

Many former FARC rebels are taking up arms again.

Foto: Raul Arboleda/ AFP
Grafitti reading "FARC-EP present" is seen on the door of a mechanical workshop on the road between El Palo and Toribío.

Grafitti reading "FARC-EP present" is seen on the door of a mechanical workshop on the road between El Palo and Toribío. 

Foto: Federico Rios/ REUTERS
FARC fighters (archive photo)

FARC fighters (archive photo)

Foto: Raul Arboleda/ AFP