It takes a world. It takes you.
Around 535 million children – a quarter of the world’s children – live in countries and communities blighted by conflict, disaster and epidemics.
Around 250 million children live in places directly affected by armed conflict. In these places, many are forced to flee their homes and communities, leaving their schools and too often separated from family and friends. Without these usual protections, these children are some of the most vulnerable in the world – and are particularly vulnerable to violence.
This violence can take many forms:
- sexual exploitation (including child marriage)
- being forced into dangerous jobs, like mining
- and even recruitment into armed forced and groups as soldiers, spies and slaves.
We know what works to keep children safe from violence in emergencies. We support those who have survived it by investing in programmes, creating protective environments, and empowering communities, parents and children themselves.
Yet, independent research shows that only 2.5% of all humanitarian aid given by the UK Government is spent on ending violence against children.
We have called on the UK Government to invest in safer futures for the world’s children.
Our Government can make a real difference by investing in ending violence against children – making it a priority for its humanitarian aid – and by influencing other governments to do the same.
We have told the Secretary of State for International Development that keeping children safe from violence – particularly in emergencies – is important to you.
Ngala, 10, forced to participate in the fighting
In the Kasai Region of DRC, the majority of militia members are under 18 -and more than half of these under 15). Ngala, a 10-year-old boy in Kasai tells his story:
“I was playing with friends when soldiers came and our father was killed.” Fearing for their lives, Ngala, his mother, brother and a sister, fled his grandparents, some 50km away. But he was not safe there.
“Friends asked me to go with them to Tshota (‘place of sacrifice’). They told me that I was going to get some powers to protect myself and my family, but they had planned it to initiate me into the militia.
“I stayed in the bush and I was given a machete to use as a weapon. A lot of bad things were happening. One day, a friend died after being shot by a bullet. I was very scared and I decided to escape.”
Now, Ngala is one of more than 7,000 children participating in the six Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) World Vision has set up in partnership with Cooperative Reveil de Kananga and communities in the Kasais. He says that participating in the CFS has helped him to get rid of bad memories about war.
Pauline, 15, orphaned by violence
“I was sleeping when the battle started in March. We heard the armed men going into the houses and killing people.
“My brother and I ran. When we arrived at our grandmother’s house, months had passed. She told us that our Papa, Maman, and our brothers and sisters had all been killed.
“I knew some girls who joined the militia. They were my age, or even younger than me. They went off to battle to kill people and drink their blood. All with the goal of having lower prices for food, and school supplies, and getting good healthcare.
“Now we have peace because the armed groups met and agreed to stop. But in order to keep the peace, no one can go to war again.
Read what children and young people around the world think about children in armed forces and groups
How do we know the UK is spending only 2.5 per cent of humanitarian aid on ending violence against children?
More could be done to prevent children joining armed groups.