Information by Country

Colombia: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
UNICEF’s approach in Colombia focuses on the rights perspective; institutional strengthening, prioritizing the vulnerable municipalities; strengthening of citizen participation and oversight to achieve greater efficiency in social investments; prevention and resolution of conflict in the family, the school and society; articulation by the State and civil society of the full realization of children's rights; and the reduction of socio-economic exclusion.

While significant achievements have been made in lowering the maternal mortality rate, it is still high (71.4 per 100,000 live births) due to poor access to prenatal and institutional obstetric care. Infant mortality is higher in rural areas. An intensification of immunization activities managed to re-establish a coverage of 85 per cent or higher with all vaccines by the end of 2002. Of the total deaths in 2001 due to accidents, 24 per cent occurred in the under-15 age group.

Coverage in basic education is 92 per cent. The average number of school years completed rose from three to 3.7 years for girls and from 3.1 to 3.8 years for boys, between the beginning of the 1990's and 2000. Girls have lower repetition and withdrawal rates than boys. Some 87 per cent of the children receiving urban primary education are promoted to the next grade, while in rural areas this rate is 78 per cent. Pre-school coverage is still very low, despite the increase from 31.6 per cent in 1993 to 46.8 per cent in 2000. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian children living in rural areas have much lower access to education.

Adolescents are initiating sexual activity at an increasingly early age and are entering into marriage at a later age, implying more casual sex encounters. The number of births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19 rose from 70 in 1990 to 89 in 1995, with an increase of 19 per cent among urban girls and 47 per cent among rural girls.

In Colombia over 1 million children between the ages of five and 17 are working. Commercial sexual exploitation, as well as international traffic and trade have increased. The new government is preparing a bill for an integral law on children's rights protection.

More than 1 million children have been displaced in the last 15 years. Some 197 land mine victims were reported in 2001, of which 54 were children. A large number of combatants in illegal armed groups are under 18 years old.


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