No Choice

This report draws on World Vision’s experience working on the issues related to children and armed conflict as well as on the findings of a multi-country study conducted for World Vision by Child Frontiers. The study included primary qualitative research in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Colombia, as well as desk research on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iraq and South Sudan. The primary research relied on focus groups of affected community members, key informant interviews, and testimonies from people who were associated with armed forces or armed groups as children.

This report makes recommendations for governments, the international community (including the United Nations and donors) and organisations working on the ground in order to prioritise the protection of children in humanitarian responses and prevent children’s engagement with armed forces and armed groups. No armed actor should recruit children, and no boy or girl under the age of 18 should see joining an armed force or armed group as his or her only or best option. It is therefore imperative to work together to change practices in armed forces and armed groups, prioritise the rights and protection of children and reduce the factors making children vulnerable to recruitment.