Children Make Up Nearly Half of Colombia’s Guerrillas, Says New Study


first_img Springer: Kids are often tricked into joining FARC UN urges Colombia to do more to fight child warrior phenomenon Diego Molano, director of the Colombian government’s Family Welfare Institute which is in charge of protecting children, questioned the report’s finding that the country currently has 18,000 child warriors. But he also admitted that the government lacks solid figures of its own. “What’s important is that no child should participate in the armed conflict,” Molano told reporters. However, Colombia’s illegal armed groups have always included many children. Some were born to female guerrilla and paramilitary fighters. Others followed the footsteps of their warrior fathers, uncles or older siblings. But the pace of forced recruitment of minors has jumped as seasoned fighters and drug gang leaders are gunned down. Rebel commanders have increasingly turned to teenagers and even pre-teens to fill out their ranks while the bandas criminales have found many advantages in deploying kids rather than adults. They’ve also found a large pool of desperate children to target. Though national statistics show a decrease in Colombia’s poverty rate, many rural areas remain backwards and isolated, and beyond the control of the government security forces. Despite the tough conditions, the guerrilla groups and drug gangs sometimes provide rudderless youths a sense of power and — however skewed — direction. BOGOTA — Although the intensity of Colombia’s long-running civil conflict has diminished over the past decade, a new study outlines one particularly devastating trend: Marxist guerrillas and drug trafficking gangs are increasingly recruiting children by force. The study estimates that more than 40 percent of the country’s guerrillas are children. In 2001, Colombian officials put that figure at about 30 percent. In addition, the report said more than half of the members in the so-called bandas criminales — drug trafficking groups made up largely of former right-wing paramilitary fighters who demobilized in the 2000s — are minors. That compares to a 40 percent child warrior rate for the now-defunct paramilitaries, the report said. Released last week, the 120-page study was authored by Natalia Springer, a Colombian expert on international law and human rights. In the absence of clear data about the recruitment of minors, she and about 80 fellow investigators spent four years interviewing nearly 500 demobilized child warriors. Besides focusing on gun-toting kids, the report also estimated that at least 100,000 children labor in drug production and other facets of Colombia’s illegal economy. “This is a humanitarian emergency,” Springer said in a telephone interview with Diálogo. “The level of forced recruitment of children is extremely high.” “The FARC is using minors to make and plant land mines, purchase medicine and carry out intelligence missions,” the UN report said. It added that sexual abuse is rampant and that girls — who make up 43 percent of child recruits — are often forced to have abortions after they become pregnant. Springer suggested that Colombians may be overlooking the problem of child warriors, in part, because the rebels have been weakened by a military offensive while the bandas criminales are less powerful and violent than the Medellín and Cali cartels that dominated the illegal narcotics trade in the 1980s and ‘90s. “There may be the impression that the war is over but I don’t believe that,” Springer said. In fact, the country’s two main guerrilla organizations – FARC and the National Liberation Army, or ELN — are nowhere near defeated, and have stepped up their attacks over the past three years. Meanwhile, the bandas criminales continue to traffic huge shipments of cocaine. Children, Springer says, are “a huge part of this dynamic.” Even so, very few children these days sign up on their own free will. In several southern departments, Springer said, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) now forces each family to provide the rebel organization with at least one son or daughter. The FARC’s minimum age used to be 14 or 15 but now Springer said those guidelines have gone out the window and that the average age of child recruits is 12. In one of the most brazen recent cases, FARC rebels burst into a country school in southern Putumayo department in May and forcibly marched 13 students into the jungle. They were between the ages of 10 and 15. “They tricked them by promising the students a better life and then took them away,” Colombian politician Gloria Inés Flórez said of the mass kidnapping. In her report, Springer quoted one former child guerrilla, who went by the name of Juan, as saying he joined the FARC at the age of 10. “The guerrillas asked us which side we were on,” Juan said. “I didn’t want to join them but, come on, you can’t say ‘no’ to these people.” center_img Government disputes study’s conclusions Children like Juan provide illegal armed groups with several advantages. They are easily brainwashed and adapt quickly to the physical demands of fighting in the mountains and jungles. They are not paid salaries and have no way of protesting. They’re often the sons and daughters of impoverished migrant workers who may not be noticed when they go missing, Springer said. Drug gangs, in turn, often rely on youngsters because — when caught — they go through the more lenient juvenile court system, meaning authorities face far more restrictions when it comes to questioning children. In addition, Springer said, it’s harder for those authorities to gain access and information from child gang members because government security forces are prohibited from using minors to infiltrate criminal organizations. Springer’s investigation comes on the heels of a United Nations report released in May that urges the Colombian government to do more to separate children from the country’s illegal armed groups. The UN report said the guerrillas usually recruit children in rural areas while the bandas criminales focus on urban areas. It said that children as young as 8 have been forced to join their ranks, and that several children in FARC uniforms were among those killed in recent military bombardments of rebel camps. Children are ‘huge part’ of cocaine trafficking network By Dialogo August 27, 2012last_img read more

Hensarling releases new ‘CHOICE Act’ draft, sets hearing


first_img 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger welcomed yesterday’s release by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, of a discussion draft for his updated “Financial CHOICE Act” providing for Durbin interchange amendment repeal and other Dodd-Frank Act reforms, a number of which NAFCU has been seeking for credit unions.A hearing is slated April 26 at 10 a.m. Eastern.“NAFCU is gratified to see work getting underway on some much-needed regulatory relief for the nation’s credit unions,” said Berger. “Credit unions continue to strain under the regulatory compliance burdens of the Dodd-Frank Act, and we thank Chairman Hensarling for his recognition of this burden and his leadership in launching a discussion of important reforms.”The draft revised Financial CHOICE Act would repeal the Durbin interchange amendment and implement other reforms of the Dodd-Frank Act, a number of which NAFCU has been seeking for credit unions. The draft bill is expected to be introduced before month end.Hensarling, in Wednesday’s announcement, said the measure “grows the economy from Main Street up.” Key provisions in the bill impacting credit unions include: continue reading »last_img read more

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett spends $1,975,000 on Brisbane home


first_imgWayne Bennett has bought in Brisbane. Picture: Darren EnglandThe Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has spent $1,975,000 on a Brisbane home bought in partnership with his partner Dale Cage.It was announced late last year than Bennett had split with wife of 42 years Trish and had moved out of their family home.Bennett and Cage have bought the lavish new home just one street back from the Brisbane River.Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:29Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:29 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenClose Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Chris Hemsworth’s Byron Bay mega-mansion00:29 Related videos 00:29Chris Hemsworth’s Byron Bay mega-mansion00:33Salim Mehajer: From glamour to jail00:35Gina Rinehart’s property portfolio00:38Socceroos star sells Lower Plenty dream home00:40Celebrity homes in Noosa00:31Historic home for saleMore from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor6 hours agoThe publicly shy super coach was spotted with Cage leaving up-market Brisbane restaurant Montrachet last week.Bennett met Cage during his two-year stint as head coach at Newcastle Knights.Cage had been was working as a secretary at a performance physiotherapy clinic.Dale co-owns a Newcastle district home which was listed for sale at $449,000 last month.Bennett is the most successful coach in rugby league history and was inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 2012.last_img read more

Mitsubishi shows interest in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project


first_imgLNG World News Staff Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation voiced its interest in the Arctic LNG 2 project, Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer Novatek is developing at a projected cost of $25.5 billion. The company’s CEO Akihiko Takadu confirmed the interest during a meeting with the head of Russian oil and gas production and transportation department within the ministry of energy.In its statement, the ministry noted talks focused on the implementation of existing projects in which the Russia and Japan cooperate, especially the Sakhalin-2 and Yamal LNG, as well as Mitsubishi’s participation in the Arctic LNG 2 project.Novatek has already agreed a 10 percent stake sale to France’s Total and is looking to sell an additional 30 percent share in the project to cover the projected project cost.The Arctic LNG 2 project envisages constructing three LNG trains at 6.6 million tons per annum each, using gravity-based structure (GBS) platforms. The project is based on the hydrocarbon resources of the Utrenneye field.Novatek has also awarded the contract to a Saipem and Renaissance joint venture to build three liquefaction trains with a 6.6 million tons per annum capacity each.last_img read more

Center fosters support for the disabled


first_imgFor a short time in September, Sarah Hinojosa was the center of several Viterbi students’ attention.Sarah Hinojosa, a senior at Blair International Baccalaureate Magnet School in Pasadena, has Down’s syndrome. This year, she was a subject of a disability-themed “capstone project” — a mandatory senior design project that engineering students at USC have to complete before graduation.Inspired · For their capstone project, USC students followed the daily routine of Sarah Hinojosa, a high school senior with Down’s syndrome. – Photo courtesy of Olivia HinojosaThe students were using the project to understand the daily difficulties for people living with disabilities, and will make recommendations to improve their lives.Encouraging disability-oriented research, such as the study of Sarah Hinojosa’s everyday activities, is one of many initiatives currently being undertaken by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities to incorporate disability awareness into university-wide instruction.“We try to infuse disability content into courses at USC,” said Barbara Wheeler, associate director of the USC UCEDD. “We do lectures and social work; we co-taught a course on disability for social workers.”The USC UCEDD has two major aims: to provide non-medical treatment and therapy to developmentally disabled community members, which primarily takes place at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and to seek out the next generation of disability-related professionals and caretakers.“It’s very important that [college] students … focus on disability,” said Sarah’s mother, Olivia Hinojosa, of her willingness to see her daughter participate in the study.The students followed Sarah Hinojosa for a day, watching her carry out daily activities. At one point, while walking back from the grocery store, Sarah Hinojosa, who is in choir and loves to sing, began to practice for an upcoming performance.Her one-on-one aide, who assists her on a daily basis, had uploaded the lyrics to a song — Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” — to Sarah Hinojosa’s mobile phone. The USC students were worried that Sarah Hinojosa might have difficulty operating the T-Mobile sidekick, but Sarah appeared to use the phone with ease.“They were able to clarify with Sarah and her one-on-one that she was able to navigate this size of equipment,” Olivia Hinojosa said.She said typically people with developmental disabilities are unable to use small equipment.The center is hoping projects like the Viterbi students’ and other efforts from universities across the nation can help increase knowledge of disabled populations and also inspire possible innovation in the future.“The idea was that if these children were going to be moving into the community — that was the long-term goal — that they would need to have a cadre of professionals who were skilled at working with these children and their families,” said Dr. Marion Taylor Baer, director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program within the USC UCEDD. “And since they have complex disorders, this needed to be an interdisciplinary team.”Baer’s LEND program readies graduate and post-graduate level students from varied academic backgrounds for positions of leadership in disability-related professions.“Our main purpose is to promote systemic change in our state to help people with developmental disabilities,” Wheeler said.In its efforts to increase the interaction between researchers and people with special needs, the Center is hoping it will be able to spur enough innovation to help improve the everyday lives of people like Sarah Hinojosa.Olivia Hinojosa said its important for students to interact on a personal level with people like her daughter. Only then, she said, can they see what types of technology developmentally disabled people have the most and least trouble operating.“It was just one of those little, opportune moments,” Olivia Hinojosa said. “Who would’ve thought they were going to stop and practice to sing, and that they would see her navigate on this small phone?”last_img read more

Calls not to damage Tipp brand ahead of crucial meeting tonight


first_imgPeople need to see the bigger picture when it comes to the club versus county debate.That’s according to Tipperary senior hurling manager Michael Ryan who says anything that interferes with the inter-county team will damage the ‘Tipperary brand’.He was speaking ahead of tonight’s county board meeting – which will see motions debated for the 2018 club season. Michael Ryan says the income gained from advancing to the latter stages of the league is of huge benefit to the county…last_img