Factsheet: Children in Armed Conflict
Some 300,000 children - boys and girls under the age of 18 - are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide,
(1) some as young as seven. (2)Child soldiers serve in 40 percent of the world's armed forces, rebel groups and terrorist organizations and fight almost 75 percent of the world's conflicts. An additional half-million children serve in armed forces that are not presently at war.(3)
At least 6 million children have been permanently disabled or seriously injured and more than 1 million children have been orphaned or separated from their families due to armed conflict (1).
Children forced into military service are used for:
· Front-line combatants
· Suicide bombers
· Mine sweepers
· Sex slaves (especially girls)
How many children are affected?
· During the 1990s, approximately 20 million children were forced by conflict or human rights violations to leave their homes. (4)
· Since 1990, conflicts have directly killed as many as 3.6 million people; tragically, more than 45 percent of these are likely to have been children. (4)
· At least 10 countries continue to use children on the frontlines. (5)
· Some 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or injured by landmines each year, nearly one third of these are children. (4)
· For every child killed in armed conflict, three are injured and permanently disabled, and over 10 million children have been psychologically traumatized by armed conflict. (2)
Where does it occur?
Children are forced into or severely affected b armed conflict in almost every continent, but the problem is most prevalent in Africa and Asia. Many countries in Europe and the Americas still accept children into their armed forces.
· From 2001 to 2004, more than 15 countries in Africa involved children in active conflict. (1)
· In the Asia Pacific region including in Nepal, children are still being recruited for on-going conflicts in seven different countries. (1)
· In six countries and territories in the Middle East and North Africa, children are used in conflict and some in suicide missions. (1)
Who are the most vulnerable to recruitment?
The most vulnerable children include those who are:
· Separated from their parent or caregiver
· Living alone without a supportive adult
· Living on the streets
· From minority groups
· Isolated or have poor social skills
· Living in or near conflict zones
What are the driving factors?
Driving factors include:
· Abduction and enticement by armed groups
· Government complicity
· Abundance of small arms and light weapons
· Absence of work and education
What is the impact on the lives of children?
Children affected by war experience devastating events such as:
· Violent death of a parent or close relative
· Separation from family
· Witnessing of loved ones being killed or tortured
· Forced participation of violent acts
Experiences of this magnitude can lead to:
· General poor health
· Serious battle wounds
· Loss of hearing or eye sight
· Loss of limbs
· Physical abuse or deprivation
· Drug addiction
· Sexual abuse and exploitation
· Serious psychological and social problems
· Transmitted infections (including HIV)
· Unwanted pregnancy (particularly dangerous for girls who are often malnourished, physically immature, and living in unsanitary conditions)
· Malnutrition and disease
Girls and boys associated with armed groups and fighting forces are at a higher risk to be impacted by the above and in addition often face:
· Uncertain future and a loss of hope
· Rejection by family and community
· Loss of identity outside the armed group
· Loss of childhood
Von: 17.02.2007 Source: World Vision. www.peacejournalism.com