Humanitarian organizations seek to contribute to strengthening the protective environment while guaranteeing the rights of children, adolescents, refugees, migrants and host communities in the capital of Santander, through Child Friendly Spaces.

Thanks to the financial support of the Office for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the United States Department of State, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Vision, in the month of August 2022 it was opened to the project “Friendly spaces for children – EAN ‘, focused on the protection and well-being of children to reduce the risks of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation of girls and boys in Bucaramanga and its urban area.

Santander is listed as an extended border with Venezuela. By January 2021, some 113,208 Venezuelan nationals remained in the department, of whom 25,000 were children, according to the DANE Migration Pulse Survey of the same year.

It is important to remember that the migration crisis created barriers to access to basic and basic goods and services, which in parallel increased other risk situations, such as exposure to abuse, exploitation, xenophobia and the exponential increase in violence against children.

Considering this reality, which is still present in Colombian territory, there is an urgent need to have spaces aimed at children of refugees, migrants and host communities. For this reason, IOM and World Vision will promote Child Friendly Spaces for four months, where children and their families will be able to:

· Strengthening the tools for the protection of children and adolescents.

· There are guidelines for parents and carers to recognize risk factors in girls and boys in addition to identifying whether they are victims of any type of violence.

· Generating knowledge and skills aimed at promoting children’s rights and activating avenues of protection.

As part of the first project activities held in September, around 66 participants, including children and their parents, took part in three workshops focused on recognizing risk factors, strengthening self-care and learning child care routes. Boys can appeal if their rights are violated. Providing parents with protective tools to develop protective skills was implemented with mothers, fathers and caregivers.

EANs are playful and recreational spaces where participants learn and develop skills while interacting with their peers and identifying common factors that allow them to integrate and generate community communication.

Sandra, one of the migrant mothers who participated in the initiative, commented on her experience in one of the first workshops in the Bucaramanga City Space: “It was a very good experience to share it with other parents and learn how to protect our children”. On the other hand , Alexandra, an 8-year-old girl, mentions one of her favorite activities in the space “I liked coming and drawing with the other kids, it was nice.”

The engagement of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Vision will continue to be present in the Department to establish referral mechanisms and initiatives to prevent gender-based violence targeting refugees, migrants and girls and boys in host communities .

*If you are part of the refugee, migrant, returnee or host group and have children between the ages of 6 and 14, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Vision invite you to contact the Children’s Space located at: Padres Somascos in the Regaderos neighborhood north of the city of Bucaramanga from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 12 noon. or from 14:00 to 16:00

About World Vision

World Vision is a global development, humanitarian aid and advocacy (political advocacy and mobilization) organization based on Christian principles, focused on helping the most vulnerable children overcome poverty and experience the fullness of life, regardless of political differences, religion, race, ethnicity or gender. In Colombia, World Vision has had a national presence for 43 years, accompanying the childhood and adolescence of thousands of Colombians, from two approaches: well-being and comprehensive protection with tenderness.

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