Stop the War on Children: Protecting children in 21st century conflict

At least 100,000 babies die every year because of conflict

More children are living in areas affected by armed conflict than at any time over the past two decades.

At least 550,000 babies are thought to have died as a result of armed conflict between 2013 and 2017 in the 10 worst-affected countries, according to new analysis by Save the Children — an average of well over 100,000 every year.

This report includes the most comprehensive collection of data on the number of children living in conflict-affected areas. It reveals that more children — almost 1 in 5 — are living in areas affected by armed conflict and war than at any time in more than 20 years.

New research by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), commissioned by Save the Children, found that 420 million children were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017 (18% of all children worldwide) — up 30 million from the previous year. Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia are the countries where children were hardest hit by conflict in 2017.

Part of the reason for the increased number of children living in conflict-affected areas is that today’s conflicts are more likely to be protracted, urban and fought among civilian populations. Increasingly, international rules and norms are flouted.

The Stop the War on Children report includes a breakdown of UN data on verified grave violations against children. According to these figures, grave violations rose worldwide from just under 10,000 in 2010 to more than 25,000 in 2017—the highest number on record. Every day children face the threat of being killed or maimed, recruited by armed groups, abducted, falling victim to sexual violence, seeing their school attacked or humanitarian aid denied. In many cases, children are specifically targeted.

The  report also highlights how efforts to keep schools safe, avoid the use of certain weapons, seek accountability for crimes against children or pursue new ways to support their recovery from the horrors of conflict can make a huge difference in their lives. Save the Children is also calling for an independent body to investigate and analyse all violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights, notably children’s rights.

Published 2019-02-15

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