Children without parental care in conflict areas are highly vulnerable to abduction or other forms of recruitment by armed forces and groups. Such children may be used to fight, provide labour or be sexually exploited. Involvement in conflict may result in malnutrition, abuse, addiction to drugs, injury, psychosocial distress or death. While children associated with armed forces and groups make up a small minority of the total number of children affected by war, they are extremely vulnerable and in need of particular protection and care.
Opportunities to help children who have been associated with fighting forces may begin with their escape, capture or formal demobilization. Some may be able immediately to reunite with family members, but others may need interim care during tracing. While children may be readily accepted by their family and community, others risk rejection. Family mediation and community sensitization is needed to support family reunification and community integration. Ongoing monitoring, family support services, and placement planning is necessary where children are not reunited with one or both parents or where family and community acceptance is uncertain.
Community action to protect and support war affected children should be inclusive and not limited to children formally associated with armed forces or any one group of children. National efforts should focus on the reestablishment of essential services, particularly in the areas of security, health and education.
While this section contains resources relevant for all children in conflict affected areas, it focuses on children without parental care, including refugees and displaced children, and children associated with armed forces and groups. It includes information on demobilisation, family reunification and community reintegration.