One in six children across the world are living in conflict areas, and children are more at risk in conflict now than at any time in the last 20 years. From Syria to South Sudan, Yemen to DRC, children are caught up in violence, which is not of their making. Children are being killed and maimed, raped and recruited, and being denied aid and medical care. Warring parties are bombing schools and hospitals on a scale not seen for decades.
We are witnessing shocking abuses committed against children daily, despite the fact that warring parties are obliged to protect children from violations. Moreover, perpetrators are not being held to account.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Standing on the sidelines is no longer an option. We have the power to make change happen. Now is the time to end the killing of children at their school desks and in their hospital beds. We must protect children in armed conflict.
Stand with us in our call to end the war on children.
We are calling on states, militaries and all actors with influence over the lives of children in conflict, to commit to take practical action in four key areas:
- Preventing children being put at risk: The most effective way to protect children from the horrors of war is to prevent war. Investments need to be made in peacekeeping, conflict-prevention initiatives, and training for military forces on how to keep children safe in conflict.
- Uphold international laws and standards: All states and actors should abide by their commitments under international laws, and should endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles. States and armed groups must commit to avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
- Holding violators to account: We urgently need stronger monitoring and reporting mechanisms to properly track civilian harm and child casualties, and stronger justice systems that address violations of children’s rights in conflict.
- Rebuilding shattered lives: Children’s futures must be at the centre of reconstruction efforts. This includes ensuring funding is available to rebuild children’s lives wrecked by conflict, and investing in programmes that help children get their lives back. Children also need to be provided with the right mental health support, and local mental health workers must be trained to support these children.