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

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. And there has been a three-fold rise in verified attacks on children since 2010 — an average of 45 violations a day.

Learn more about how UNICEF is meeting urgent needs of children impacted by conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

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

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 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, 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.

Help children in conflict zones by funding lifesaving assistance and protection services.