War Child staff and child in Palestine.
What we do

Protecting children

We work with children, families, communities, and governments in conflict zones to protect children from danger. 

Protecting children from harm is at the heart of what War Child does.  

Crises, such as conflicts can have devastating effects on children’s lives. Children’s dignity, safety and healthy development are threatened. They may be separated from their families, trafficked, recruited or used by armed groups and face physical or sexual abuse. Each year, thousands of children are killed are also injured by explosive weapons and landmines. 

Growing up amidst conflict and experiencing violence can also have a devastating impact on children’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Many children in the countries we work in have always lived in countries with conflict.  

Our child protection teams work with communities, families and children to keep children safe around the world regardless of who they are or where they are from. We support children who are moving across borders, living on the streets or in refugee camps. We focus on children at heightened risk, such as girls who are forced into child marriage, children who have been separated from their families, recruited into armed groups or forced into dangerous working conditions. We are accountable to the children we work with and believe that they have a right to be heard and involved in any decision that is made about their lives and future. 

Scale of the challenge

  • 33 M

    Children forcibly displaced from their homes as of end of 2020.

  • 160 M

    Children in child labour worldwide.

  • 650 M

    Girls and women affected by child marriage around the world.

What we do 

Supporting children’s wellbeing 

Growing up and living in a time of conflict can result in considerable distress for children. War Child works to support children to regain a sense of normality in unfamiliar and difficult circumstances. We train mental health support workers and set up child-friendly spaces for children to play and learn in, spend time with friends and where we can assess what kind of other support they might need. We encourage children to express themselves, building their confidence and trust again, so they can better cope and recover from the effects of war.   

Former child soldier, Frederique playing football in the Central African Republic.
Frederique, a child formerly associated with an armed group in the Central African Republic, playing football next to War Child's friendly space. Credit: Arete.
I am happy I can go to the War Child child-friendly space and take part in the activities. When I am there, I can forget my troubles for a while. When I see other kids playing football, I can’t sit still, I have to join them. I just love playing football, it’s what makes me happiest.
Frederique, Central African Republic.

Providing individual and specialised support 

War Child have trained social workers who find and work with individual children facing specific risks to their safety and wellbeing. These social workers are experts in working with children and families to better understand both the risks they are facing, and their strengths to overcome these risks. Each child will benefit from an individual plan that guides the support the child will receive. This could be education supplies and re-entry into school, family livelihoods support, or even finding a family safe shelter after fleeing conflict. We work with the local authorities and national and international organisations to provide these services. This approach means that the children most at risk receive specialised, dedicated support to keep them safe.  


Working with communities 

We know that no child exists in isolation and to keep children safe means working with their families and communities. We work with groups of community members who are dedicated to keeping children safe – supporting them to identify children at risk and refer them to organisations who can help. We also work with communities to assess the risks to children’s safety and wellbeing and take action as a community to reduce these risks. This can be as simple as teaching children to be careful not to play in areas that are known to be at risk of mines, adding lighting to dark and unsafe spaces or cordoning off deep wells that children can otherwise fall in. 

Often organisations come with everything already done and decided, and we can only accept it as in the end it will be beneficial to us. However, it is not always what we needed the most. We really support this new approach from War Child. We have lots of ideas on how to help our children.
Participant in War Child’s community-led activities, Central African Republic.

Supporting children associated with armed groups 

The use of children by armed forces and groups is one of the six grave violations to children's rights in situations of armed conflict. They’re often abducted by the armed groups, but some are lured in by promises of education, security, money and status, and others are indoctrinated or forced.

We support these children to re-integrate into society, we work with communities and engage children and youth themselves to create meaningful change.  

Find out more

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