Children in West and Central Africa

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Child protection in emergencies

Many countries in West and Central Africa are affected by conflicts and political instability. DRC, CAR, Chad are experiencing continued armed conflict. Others, such as Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Mauritania are faced with violence as a result of political instability. Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire have moved out of conflict, but are remaining fragile and are facing a number of risks during the transition period. Many of these conflicts and instabilities are not limited to one country, but have cross-border and cross-regional effects, especially in two clusters of countries: (a) Cameroun, Chad, Sudan, and (b) Great Lakes countries: DRC, Uganda, Sudan, and CAR.

Watch this video entitled: "Finding refuge in Chad after attacks in northern Nigeria":

Civilian populations in conflict-affected countries are repeatedly forced to move, are victims of violence and are experiencing restricted access for humanitarian agencies. These regions are also highly affected by systematic sexual violence against women and girls and the forced recruitment of children by armed groups and military forces. Children are the most vulnerable group during emergencies, at risk of being separated from their families during movements, victims or witnesses of indescribable violence (including killing, maiming, sexual violence) and at risk of further abuses and exploitation in displaced and refugee situations. Children are being used by armed groups as combatants, sexual slaves and in other functions to support armed groups. When they return they are at risk of stigma, social rejection and psychologically trauma.

UNICEF and other child protection organizations work together to minimise, respond to and prevent violence against children during emergencies. These include approaches to: family tracing and reunification; psychosocial support and community protection; release and reintegration of children associated with armed groups; care and psychosocial support for sexual violence survivors; landmine risk education; monitoring and reporting of child rights violations (Security Council Resolutions 1612 and 1882). Coordination and data systems have been strengthened to ensure effective implementation and follow-up, accurate analysis, reporting and advocacy through an inter-agency child protection database. As part of efforts to protect children in conflict and to promote the universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the CRC, Chad organised a regional conference on children affected by armed conflict.

Priorities for the regional office:

Strengthen country capacities:

  • Strengthen capacities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in CAR, Chad and Cote d'Ivoire through an inter-agency project with UNFPA and UNHCR
  • Support the training of military and police in partnership with Save the Children Sweden and the International Bureau for Children’s Rights. Support the integration of child protection modules in standard training curricula of national military and police academies and regional peacekeeping training schools.
  • Organise learning events on child protection in emergencies, emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction, and child protection cluster coordination
  • Reinforce capacities in Chad, CAR, Cote d'Ivoire and DRC in monitoring and reporting of Security Council Resolutions 1612 and 1882.

Disseminate knowledge

  • Translate into French and disseminate key child protection resource materials to increase access of francophone child protection actors to global standards and resource materials
  • Develop an integrated approach to child protection and education in emergencies and develop joint guidelines and supply lists for emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

Technical support

  • Strengthen child protection emergency preparedness and response plans and provide technical support to countries in emergencies in line with the revised Core
  • Commitments for Children (CCC) and the cluster approach.



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