Girls run and play at a transition centre for children in contact with the law

Children in War and Conflict

UNICEF helps save and protect child victims of war and violence through evidence-based interventions and response services in more than 140 countries. 

In war, children suffer most

Over 400 million children live in countries where there is war or other violent conflicts. Often forced to flee their homes in search of safety, many remain displaced for extended periods of time. Some are orphaned or separated from parents and caregivers. 

Over half of all civilians killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war are children. Verified attacks on children have tripled since 2010.

UNICEF is meeting urgent needs of children impacted by wars in Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Recurring violence also endangers children in Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and South SudanBoko Haram, a violent Islamist insurgency, has terrorized communities around West Africa's Lake Chad Basin for years. 

In all of these countries and regions, UNICEF is there, delivering lifesaving support.

Children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking during emergencies and armed conflicts. And as violence against children increases, perpetrators are rarely held accountable for the killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions and armed recruitment of children, or for 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 holistic 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 and dismantle systematic sexual abuse — often a weapon of war — and to provide recovery services to victims

  • protects children from military conscription, and faciliates release of child soldiers and their reintegration back into their communities

  • supports millions of children in areas affected by landmines and explosive weapons with prevention and survivor assistance interventions

  • provides emergency relief to children impacted by war, including medical care, safe water and sanitation, hygiene kits 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.

Learn more about what UNICEF is doing to protect children in conflict and safeguard their rights.

Guidance for parents and caregivers: How to talk to your children about conflict and war.

Help UNICEF reach more children in conflict zones with lifesaving assistance and protection services. Donate today.