BOGOTA – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on Saturday the “satisfactory” release of the first group of minors recruited by the FARC, and who were in one of the areas in northwestern Colombia going through a process of normalization.
“This first release of underage recruits in 2017 signifies another step toward finally achieving what has been agreed upon by both sides,” the head of the ICRC in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, was cited as saying in a statement by the organization.
The document did not specify the number of minors who where received by the humanitarian mission made up of the ICRC and other organizations, though local media agreed there were seven.
The ICRC added in a statement that “the first release of minors from areas in a process of normalization has been satisfactorily completed, as was agreed upon in recent weeks.”
The Red Cross also said that the “humanitarian operation” was backed by security forces.
The humanitarian organization thanked the media for understanding and accepting the measures taken to keep secret the identities of minors taken to transition sites for their release.
“These measures will be maintained in future operations that involve minors,” the ICRC said.
It added that minors handed over were examined by medical personnel of the ICRC involved in this mission to guarantee they are in sufficiently good health to be taken to the place where they will be received.
The top FARC leader, Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko,” said several weeks ago that the government and the guerrilla group had defined the program of caring for minors who leave the ranks of the rebels and which will be called “Different Road of Life.”
Though no exact number of children and teens in the ranks of the guerrillas has been given, last May the FARC’s second in command, Luciano Marin, alias “Ivan Marquez,” said there were 21 minors, though the government raised that number to 170.
Only 13 minors have been returned by the FARC up to now.