Children in conflict

In December 2016, UNICEF reported that an estimated 535 million children, a quarter of the world's children,  lived in countries affected by conflict or disasters. Nearly 50 million have been forcibly displaced from their homes, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation and violence.

Children are the most vulnerable victims of conflict due to many factors. Besides being among the many civilian casualties during an armed conflict, children may be orphaned or separated from their families and become heads of households which leaves them vulnerable to forced labour, sexual exploitation or recruitment in armed forces.

In environments where basic services are disrupted and livelihoods destroyed, children are often malnourished and at risk of death by preventable or curable diseases. The hardships of life in armed conflicts often force children to leave school. Many never return, even when conflict ends. Children who have experienced conflict must find ways to cope with their memories of distressing experiences which may well have long-term repercussions and affect their whole lives

As a child-focused agency committed to reaching the world’s most vulnerable children, we asked ourselves two questions: Where in the world is the worst place for children to grow up?  and what should we do in these places to impact children more beneficially?

These questions were difficult to answer when global humanitarian funding for children affected by conflict remained limited, and especially when donor fatigue grew due to the continuation of protracted crises that had no end in sight.

Our new global strategy, Our Promise 2030 commits us to working in conflict-affected areas where the most vulnerable children and their communities are, ensuring that the organisation’s programmes improve the lives and well-being of children in conflict and fragile contexts.

In practical terms, this means that children and their communities will be helped to become more resilient in contexts of conflict through:

  • Solid early warning systems,
  • Good conflict mitigation measures (community-level interfaith work and peacebuilding),
  • Preparedness for a solid humanitarian response relevant to the needs of children and their communities, and;
  • Ensuring that rehabilitation and post-conflict programmes are sustainable and built on local capacities. 

We will:

  • Build partnerships with a range of internal World Vision groups from various sectors (such as health and nutrition, education, protection and others) as well as groups external to the organisation (community members, faith representatives, conflict resolution networks).

  • Make sure adequate resources are available for implementation of priority child-focused programmes in conflict and fragile contexts.

  • Ensure staff capabilities are strengthened to design and implement disaster management programmes in conflict settings.

  • Ensure the use of innovative, creative approaches that reduce conflict and achieve maximum positive impact on vulnerable children and their communities.