Protection of children must be priority in war and conflict settings
Global Humanitarian Director Dr Unni Krishnan implores donors to commit resources to address child protection and support in war and conflict settings.
Disasters, conflicts and other humanitarian crises can have devastating effects on children and young people, both in terms of immediate physical and emotional impact, and potential long term psychological damage. Support and protective systems, including families and communities, as well as services are often undermined or disrupted.
As a result, children and young people are exposed to new threats, such as loss of or separation from their families, sexual exploitation, trafficking, and recruitment into armed groups. Furthermore, existing harmful practices such as child labour and child marriage can be exacerbated. Often several of these threats are experienced at the same time.
Plan International works with children, their families, communities and local authorities to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation with urgent, life-saving actions. Our programmes ensure the protection needs of children and young people are met, with particular attention paid to the unique risks faced by adolescent girls.
Our child protection in emergencies work includes:
Jemma tells the story of her journey from the conflict in South Sudan to the world’s largest refugee camp, Bidi Bidi in northern Uganda.
Children and their families often resort to child labour and/or child marriage as a coping mechanism to deal with food insecurity. Likewise, children who are out of school are more vulnerable to child labour and recruitment in armed groups.
We are working to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced and hazardous labour by working across sectors.
In addition, we work with and for adolescent girls who are subject to particular risks during emergencies, including gender-based violence, and are not equally equipped with the knowledge, mobility or assets to get life-saving help.
We also work to prevent and respond to child marriage in humanitarian settings, which is often exacerbated during emergencies.
In Bogota, Colombia, we’re responding to the needs of migrants and refugees from Venezuela.
Plan International is a core member of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (ACPHA) in which it takes a leadership role on the Learning and Development Working Group and the Child Labour in Humanitarian Action, Cash and Child Protection, Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups and Community-Level Child Protection Task Forces.
Plan International is also leading the Prevention initiative under the ACPHA. We are a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for the Child Protection Area of Responsibility and a new Core Member of the Gender Based Violence Area of Responsibility.