Studies, Reviews and Research

Impact of conflict on children’s health and disability. Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education

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UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Conflict impacts children’s health in four important ways. First, conflict-driven displacement increases child death and injury, mainly through increased susceptibility to infectious disease from unsanitary living conditions. A case study on Southern Sudan illustrates that conflict reduces sanitation, clean water, and health services making it difficult to stop the spread of neglected tropical diseases, such as visceral leishmaniasis and trachoma. Second, children have a higher risk of food insecurity and malnutrition during times of conflict. The country case of Chad illustrates that food insecurity is heightened by the resettlement of displaced people leading to higher rates of malnutrition. Third, children, especially girls, are subjected to an increased risk of sexual violence from armed combatants during conflict. Rape has been a prevalent component of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo causing increased risk of psychological trauma, unwanted pregnancy, and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections. Fourth, conflict induces long-term physical and psychological disability in children, especially among child soldiers. In Afghanistan, rehabilitation and educational interventions are critical in improving the health outcomes of children. This paper was commissioned by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report as background information to assist in drafting the 2011 report ‘The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education’

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