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International Day of Child Soldiers

Alarming phenomenon

On 12 February 2024, the world marked the International Day of Child Soldiers, highlighting a brutal reality that affects thousands of children across the globe.

Cruelty of armed groups

 “Child soldiers”. Behind this term lies a harsh reality. All over the world, in conflict zones, thousands of children are forcibly recruited by armed groups. They are used as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers and/or to provide sexual services. These children and adolescents, violently torn from their childhood, witness horrors and conflicts or are forced to take part in them.

Alarming results

Between 2005 and 2022, the United Nations system verified 315,000 serious violations committed against children in conflict zones, illustrating the devastating effects of war on children.

Increased awareness

International Child Soldiers’ Day is therefore of crucial importance in drawing attention to the plight of these vulnerable children. To raise the awareness of the public, governments and international organisations to the challenges these children face, highlighting the horror of their situation.

Advocacy for the Rights of the Child

By highlighting abuses and violations of children’s rights, this day strengthens advocacy for the protection of their fundamental rights, including the right to a childhood free from violence and exploitation. It encourages efforts to reintegrate child soldiers into society and also makes it possible to mobilise financial resources to support protection and reintegration programmes for these children.

Involvement of UNICEF and its partners in the Fight against this phenomenon

UNICEF and several of its partners continue to play a crucial role in the fight against the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. In 2022, they provided more than 12,460 children with reintegration or protection support.

UNICEF runs programmes to prevent the recruitment of children and promotes a legal framework prohibiting their recruitment and use in armed groups.

Despite the progress made, tens of thousands of children remain involved, directly or indirectly, in armed conflicts, underlining the continuing importance of the fight against this alarming phenomenon.



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