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21 Venezuelan children rescued in Bogota

21 Venezuelan children rescued in Bogota



Courtesy | He added that the rescued children are now under the care of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute.

Colombia’s national police say they have rescued 93 children who were begging on the streets of Bogotá. During the operation, at least 21 of them were found to be Venezuelans, with no sign of their parents or representatives.

“We are trying to get evidence of different activities in restaurants and supermarkets, places of close contact with citizens,” said Norberto Caro, head of the police’s security and special services.

According to the Colombian portal Blue Radio, the minors are mainly concentrated in the areas of Chapinero, Dussaquillo and Fontibon. Although in many cases they accepted food to survive, they usually begged for money. For this reason, Caro urged people not to give any kind of goodies, as this would encourage the practice, but also for the children’s own safety.

He added that the rescued children are currently under the care of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF). “The aim of these measures is to protect the rights of this particular population, which is affected by the growing child exploitation and begging in the capital, linked to social risks such as poverty, forced displacement and the migrant phenomenon,” he pointed out.

Statistics

Colombia currently has the largest Venezuelan diaspora in the world, with over 2.8 million migrants. This does not include those in transit across the country and those heading to the Darien Forest on their way to the United States. Many minors, in turn, travel with their parents or other adults, although sometimes, they travel alone.

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Venezuela’s Transitional Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants (R4V) published a report analyzing the needs of refugees and migrants in September 2023. The document estimates that at least 16.3% of Venezuelans travel through other countries, out of a population of about 1.53 million children and adolescents in vulnerable situations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Similarly, between 2015 and 2022, the Colombian government had to intervene to protect approximately 14,172 Venezuelan immigrant or refugee minors, while in 2023 alone, more than 7,690 rights violation processes were registered.

These include not only street children, but also those who are victims of neglect, complete or temporary absence of guardians, sexual acts and sex. Cases recovered from child labor networks, sexual exploitation or forced recruitment into irregular groups.

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