How UNICEF Protects Children

Children rush towards the camera smiling in the Central African Republic where seven schools have been built by UNICEF and NGO partners.
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UNICEF cooperates with governments, NGOs, and international organizations to stop abuse and violence towards children and to protect vulnerable young people through widespread advocacy of legislation, monitoring systems and rehabilitation and recovery programs. We also work with communities to address harmful practices and empower children through educational, life-skills and prevention programs.

Special Protection in Emergencies and Conflict

Children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking during emergencies and armed conflicts. During times of crisis, UNICEF works diligently to care for children who have been separated from their families; to create protective "child-friendly" spaces; and to offer medical treatment and counseling. In countries wracked by violent conflict and upheaval, UNICEF protects children from military conscription, works to stop trafficking, and helps child soldiers and sex slaves recover and reintegrate into their communities. 

  • UNICEF played a key role in developing the Child Act for South Sudan, and is supporting that law by establishing child-friendly justice systems, demobilizing child soldiers, and supporting mine-risk education.
  • In 2009 alone, UNICEF facilitated the release of 2,813 child soldiers from on-going civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • In the first six months of 2012, UNICEF and partners were able to aid more than 145,000 displaced children in Syria.
  • By July 2012, UNICEF had reached more than 90,000 people in conflict-affected northern Mali to assist with medical, water, education, and child-protection needs.

UNICEF actively advocates to protect children and women from the systematic sexual violence that is increasingly used as a weapon of war. Without protection from violence and exploitation, children’s basic survival and development are at risk.