Adolescents and youth

Humanitarian situations

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1424/Shehzad Noorani
Lebanon, Hayat, 13, and her cousin Yamama, 10, laugh in the Fayda informal tented settlement. 13 family members share a single tent.

In emergency and transition situations, young people between the ages of 10 and 24 play essential roles in the survival and recovery of their communities even while facing unique threats on a daily basis. Adolescents and young people are often targets of violence and bear enormous responsibilities during and after emergencies. They are more likely than young children to be recruited into fighting forces; be sexually abused and exploited; be forced to generate a livelihood and engage in exploitative labour; head households; miss out on education; contract sexually transmitted infections such as HIV; and lack reproductive health care.

Young people, who are in a pivotal time of transition from childhood to adulthood, endure these and other abuses and bear responsibilities without adequate support or preparation. Despite the loss of social care, education, jobs, health facilities and other forms of support, most young people seek constructive ways to cope.

United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have worked increasingly over the past several years to support the protection and development of young people. Efforts to address the situation of young people affected by crises and to enhance their capacities to find solutions have also grown. As a result, young people have emerged as key agents for constructive social change, recovery, reconciliation, peace-building, and development.

Despite expanding interest and action, major gaps remain in policy and programming related to young people in emergency and transition situations. Furthermore, constructive capacities of young people are still regularly overlooked in humanitarian responses and development plans. Funding for programmes explicitly targeting young people in emergencies situations and transition remains highly limited and too often young people are viewed as a problem rather than as a resource.

UNICEF and UNFPA jointly organized an Expert Group Meeting in December 2006 in New York to draft an Interagency Framework for Working with Young People in Emergency and Transition Situations.  Other partners in this collaboration included the International Rescue Committee (IRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Plan UK, Save the Children UK, UN Programme on Youth/DESA, and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children.

This framework will build much-needed common understanding of critical links between young people’s well-being and individual and societal survival and recovery, as well as peace and security. It will also create new commitments towards coordinated action for and with young people affected by crisis. The development of the framework will be directly supported by improved knowledge on what is needed for and what works in humanitarian and post-emergency development, and the active involvement and contribution of young people.  For more information, please read the Executive Summary [PDF] of the Meeting Report.


 

 

Resources

Adolescent Programming in Conflict and Post-Conflict - Case Studies

Visualizing Risk and Resilience - Mapping Tool

UNICEF Humanitarian Action - Webpage

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