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Facts for Life

Emergencies: preparedness and reponse

Supporting Information


Children have the right to be protected from violence in emergencies. Governments, civil society, international organizations, communities and families have the responsibility to protect them.

Protecting girls and boys during conflicts or disasters is critical since they can be vulnerable to many kinds of violence.

Some violence is directly related to the emergency. This includes abduction, torture, beating, harassment and injuries during fighting by soldiers or armed groups or fighting in communities over limited resources. Emergencies also increase the usual risks of violence in a community, such as domestic violence, violence in schools or violence among children themselves.

Girls and women are at particular risk of trafficking and sexual violence, including rape, which is sometimes used as a tactic of war. This is unacceptable. All efforts should be taken by governments and local authorities to make sure this never happens. Girls and women who are subjected to this violence need health care, psychosocial support and counselling. Some will need support in relocating and reintegrating into their families.

In armed conflicts, children must be protected. They must not be recruited by armed forces or armed groups or be allowed to take part in fighting. If children are arrested, they should not be harmed. They should be kept separate from adults (or with their family), and they must receive a fair trial. If girls or boys are victims of violence, they have the right to seek justice that takes their views into account.

It is important for children and families to report violations against children's rights to the authorities when it is safe to do so. Serious violations of children's rights, including killing children, using children as soldiers, sexual violence against children and abduction of children, should be reported to international humanitarian agencies.