“Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives. Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children. For every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, there are many more that go unreported.”
– UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore
Children are the first victims of war
- Over 400 million children live in countries affected by violent conflict; many are forcibly displaced, sometimes orphaned and unaccompanied, in search of safety
- Over half of all civilians killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war are children
- There has been a three-fold rise in verified attacks on children since 2010 — an average of 45 violations a day
Children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking during emergencies and armed conflicts. While violence against children is increasing at a disturbing rate, perpetrators are rarely held accountable for the killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions and armed recruitment of children, the denial of humanitarian access and attacks on schools and hospitals.
How UNICEF is helping child victims of war
UNICEF provides evidence-based violence prevention interventions and response services to child victims of violence in more than 140 countries. As part of a wholistic approach, UNICEF:
- Cares for and works to reunite children who have been separated from their families
- Creates Child-Friendly Spaces that give children a safe space to rest, play, learn and receive psychosocial support
- Works to stop trafficking, dismantle systematic sexual abuse that is increasingly used as a weapon of war and provide recovery services to victims
- Protects children from military conscription and helps with the release and reintegration of children from armed forces into their communities
- Supports millions of children in areas affected by landmines and explosive weapons with prevention and survivor assistance interventions
- Provides emergency relief essentials to victims, including safe water, food, hygiene kits, medical services and more
UNICEF calls on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water sources. UNICEF also calls on states with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children.