Unicef Logo and the text: Children Under Threat. The State of The World's Children 2005.

Wars Roll Back Progress For Children

Developing countries are often locked in a vicious cycle in which poverty generates the desperation and fear that can lead to conflict, threatening the rights of vast numbers of children.

Armed conflict maims and kills children and those who protect them. It destroys the homes and schools that were built to nurture them. It separates children from their families, increases their risk of exploitation and abuse, and exposes them to violence that can result in psychological and psychosocial trauma for years to come. In a number of countries, children are forced to take part in combat or to become servants, messengers or spies.

The threat of violence can drive entire communities from their homes, creating large populations of refugees and internally displaced persons who are vulnerable to malnutrition and diseases, including HIV/AIDS. All too often, the period of exile runs into years or even decades. Generations are growing up in camps where overcrowding, poor sanitation and the weak application of the rule of law make conditions particularly hazardous for children.

The effects of armed conflict extend far beyond the battlefield. Damage to infrastructure can disrupt routine immunization activities or impede access for vaccinators – making children in conflict zones disproportionately vulnerable to death from preventable diseases. Explosive remnants of war often remain embedded in the landscape of war-affected countries, endangering children’s lives and rendering much of their environment unsafe. And by draining much-needed funds from national budgets and depriving families of their livelihoods, wars roll back development, deepen poverty and entrench the social disparities that blight every aspect of childhood.

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation
of any frontiers.

Dotted line represents approximately the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir agreed upon by India
and Pakistan. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties.

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Copyright © UNICEF, 2004

UNICEF’s work on early childhood development [Web]

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Children in jeopardy [PDF]

Finance development: Invest in children [PDF]

Poverty reduction begins with children [PDF]

Poverty and Children: Lessons of the 90s for Least Developed Countries [PDF]

“I think it's wonderful that people are realizing the pain of child labour... children should know what it feels like to be children... it is definitely not right to push them so far ahead and fill in the shoes of adults...”.
girl, 21, Malaysia

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Percentage of infants who receive DPT3 vaccine: 76

Number of infants vaccinated each year: 100 million.

Number of lives that could be saved each year through routine immunization: 2.2 million
© UNICEF 2004