The jury of the sixth edition of the “ICRC's Humanitarian Visa d'Or prize” has unanimously awarded the Colombian photojournalist Juan Arredondo for his work entitled "Born into conflict: child soldiers in Colombia". Since 2014, he has been exploring the fate of fighters recruited illegally into armed groups in his country. More than half of them are girls, some as young as nine.
For Nick Danziger, chair of the jury: "Beyond the high professional standard of the work, I was particularly touched by the portrayal of these young women whose childhood and adolescence have been defined by violence and war”.
The ICRC has been in Colombia for over 40 years dealing with the consequences of the armed conflict and other situations of violence. According to the ICRC “Colombia: humanitarian challenges 2016” report, children and teenagers continue to be recruited and used by weapon bearers. In 2015, they recorded 181 alleged violations of humanitarian rules concerning 2’000 children and teenagers. The same year, 35 minors left armed groups and were able to get in touch with their families with help from the organisation.
By maintaining a confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict, the ICRC discusses the specific needs and vulnerability of minors. The organisation is also in permanent contact with the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), allowing it to visit the minors in its facilities. Uneducated and mostly without family support, these young women are often unable to resume a normal life. This picture was taken in one of the ICBF centers for demobilized child soldiers in Caldas, where they study agriculture-related disciplines in preparation to return to their communities.
"Born into conflict: child soldiers in Colombia" will be exhibited during the 28th Visa pour l'Image international photojournalism festival in Perpignan, from 27 August to 11 September 2016.