During conflicts, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies, adolescents shoulder immense burdens.
They can be found on the frontlines of response efforts, protecting their communities and environments. Many are forced to drop out of school to help care and provide for their families. Others are cut off from education – and basic needs like health, nutrition, protection, water and sanitation – due to conflict and natural disasters.
Today, more countries are embroiled in fighting than at any time in the past 30 years, leaving adolescents extremely vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. Girls in humanitarian settings may face pressure to marry from families desperate to secure their safety and survival. They are also at increased risk of sexual violence, while boys suffer the dangers of forced recruitment by armed groups.
For displaced adolescents, threats surge. Separated from their homes and sometimes their families, adolescents on the move become vulnerable to trafficking and detention. Those already disadvantaged by poverty or discrimination – perhaps due to disability or ethnicity – are most at risk.