Protecting children from explosive weapons
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines, bombs and other remnants of war kill and injure thousands of children each year.
Every year, more than 22,000 civilians are killed or injured by explosive weapons and remnants of war, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines and bombs. Children account for over half of the casualties from explosive ordnance.
They are vulnerable for numerous reasons.
The use of explosive weapons has increased in populated areas, like cities, where many girls and boys live with their families: There and elsewhere, aerial bombing and shelling do not spare children.
Many children are also killed or injured while playing with remnants, attracted to their colourful appearance and unaware of how deadly they are. Some of these weapons are household objects that have been turned into explosives.
Children account for over half of those killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
Child survivors endure staggering injuries. They can lose their sight, hearing or limbs. Many will suffer the psychological effects of trauma. And without adequate medical treatment, children injured by explosive weapons may be pulled from school – limiting their ability to build a better future for themselves and their families.
Explosive weapons also harm children by killing and injuring their parents. Children who lose their parents are less likely to receive adequate nutrition, immunization, and protection from abuse or exploitation. As a result, they’re often deprived of opportunities to grow and thrive.
And because explosive weapons and remnants of war can block physical access to schools, clean water, health facilities, farmland and other essential resources, they undermine the most fundamental human rights for a countless number of children.
Children bear no responsibility for war. But they are the first to suffer its consequences.
To keep children safe from bombs, IEDs, landmines and other explosive weapons, UNICEF calls for a mine-free world and a global commitment to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We support the risk-reduction efforts of governments and humanitarian actors, and educate communities on the dangers of explosive weapons.
Moreover, UNICEF assists victims through medical care, provision of artificial limbs, mental or emotional support, and access to education – and helps build our partners’ capacity to protect and support children as well.
As co-chair of the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education Advisory Group, UNICEF offers guidance to global actors. We also strengthen the knowledge and skills of experts through courses on Developing Effective Explosive Ordnance Risk Education and Integrated Mine Action for Better Results, and as a knowledge leader in the International Mine Risk Education Working Group.
Since 2014, UNICEF has supported 24 million children in 25 countries to receive life-saving explosive-ordnance risk education, mostly in regions affected by ongoing conflicts. During the same period, we helped rehabilitate children injured by remnants of war in more than 10 countries.
More from UNICEF
Assistance to Victims of Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War: Guidance on Child-Focused Victim Assistance
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
Last updated 3 September 2020