children in armed conflict

Zainab [NAME CHANGED], 16, stands in a UNICEF-assisted transit centre for recently released former child soldiers, in the town of N’dele, capital of the northern Bamingui-Bangoran Prefecture in Central African Republic. Wanting to avenge the death of her fiancé, Zainab joined an armed group but, once recruited, was frequently sexually abused by male soldiers. She is now recovering at the centre, where she receives basic business training to pursue her dream of owning a restaurant. “All she talks about is going back home,” said a child protection specialist who works at the centre.

© UNICEF/Brian Sokol

Malala Turned 18 Yesterday and Opened a School for Syrian Refugee Girls

The fund’s blog quotes Yousafzai:

“I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria. I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” Malala said. “On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world — you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy — the world’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”

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“Never stop learning.”

Clara Barona de Ayerbe, Chief of Communication for Development, UNICEF Angola

After 25 years with UNICEF in Colombia, Bolivia and Angola, Clara has just retired. Before returning to her native Colombia, she spent the last eight years of her career at the UNICEF office in Luanda.

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Wishing Madam Professor Griselda Marchbanks a joyous 151st birthday today! Madam Marchbanks, a Wizengamot Elder since 1992 (with a 2-year hiatus after resigning in protest of Ministry corruption) is known for championing education reform in the years after the war, notably saying, “Our generations are beyond redemption–we will never be free from our embedded biases formed over centuries of armed conflict. But our children of all parentage, and the goblins’ children, and the centaurs’ foals–they are the ones who have a chance of transcending prejudice, and that chances lies in education and the annihilation of ignorance.”

Marchbanks is also known for controversially being a die-hard fan of Muggle punk rock–”The need to rebel didn’t skip my generation, its just that when I was eighteen all we had was Tchaikovsky.”

(Portrait by Hannah Radley Bennett)

When a villain’s survival is perpetually being met with skepticism.

*Browsing the Darth Maul tag, scrolls past another post asserting that it’s “ridiculous” how difficult certain SW villains are to kill and comparing Maul’s longevity to The Joker’s*

Light-siders habitually overlook the fact that their faves tend to survive everything canon throws at them. In general, more or less intact, at that.

The post RotJ EU had Leia and Han having several children, getting into all sorts of armed conflicts, and aging discreetly and slowly. It had Luke following a similar trajectory, but with more love interests and a starring role in most of the decisive battles. The first author who dared to say “the fact that none of the main characters can be killed off is sapping the suspense from these stories“ and obtained specific permission from George Lucas to give Chewbacca a hero’s death, at the end of his book, got hate mail and death threats from angry fans.

My point is, most of the heroes in SW are functionally immortal. And their (rare) plot significant casualties get in-canon tears and funerals and memorials.

I think all fans are aware that it can hurt like hell to lose fictional people. And, no matter who’s feeling it, I take the intensity of that grief seriously. But that’s also part of why I object to the fact that some light-siders act like canon has wronged them because Darth Maul was “only” maimed and presumed dead.

Restricting this to the PT and OT movies, and the most high-profile antagonists, villain fans lost:

-General Grievous

-Jango Fett

-Count Dooku

-Moff Tarkin

-Darth Sidious

-Darth Vader (and the entire order of the Sith, with these last two.)

Supplementary materials have taken Darth Maul and Boba Fett off the list of casualties, even though they both appeared to be left in a situation that was not survive-able.

If Maul lives, he is the exception to a pattern of extermination that leaves every single SW villain dead. Unmourned. And generally too mutilated to even have something left to bury.

When I marvel at the fact that he’s almost fifty, now, it’s because ultimately, his existence depends on someone out here, a canon creator, who’d rather keep him than replace him with a new face. And that, for a villain, is vanishingly rare.

But if you set them side by side, heroes make use of a truly inexhaustible supply of hand-waveium, courtesy of the author who is keeping them alive.

It’s not even unlikely that this determined, force-strong alien lived. In-universe, what defies belief is that none of the other major characters who fought against the heroes did.

Map: There are 30 million people in slavery across the globe

Aside from these staggering numbers, it’s sobering to visualize just how global a problem slavery is. Almost no country is untouched – even nations with relatively low slave populations, like the United Kingdom, house thousands of enslaved men, women, and children.

Walk Free defines slavery as one of the following: human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale or exploitation of children including in armed conflict. Since modern slavery is “poorly understood,” even these definitions and the numbers they produce aren’t entirely reliable.

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In Honor Of Her 18th Birthday, Malala Yousafzai Opens A School For Syrian Refugee Girls

“I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria,” Yousafzai said in a speech. “I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them.”

(via In Honor Of Her 18th Birthday, Malala Yousafzai Opens A School For Syrian Refugee Girls - BuzzFeed News)

12 February is the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
Today serves as a reminder that thousands of children continue to be abducted, recruited, killed, maimed or raped in conflicts around the world.

With that in mind, we decided to put together a few links for you to read and possibly share with your friends and colleagues.

First…a joint statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and UN Special Representative Leila Zerrougui on the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers:

Then…a piece from the Independent discussing how for child soldiers to truly recover…they need to be given the means by which they can support themselves:

Next…is a video featuring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and former Child Soldier Ishmael Beah and his first-hand account of his mission to the Central African Republic:

And lastly…a link to more information regarding “Children in armed Conflict” on

Photo caption: A boy sits in the dormitory of the UNICEF-supported Centre de Transit et Orientation (CTO), a shelter and reintegration centre for recently demobilized child soldiers, in the eastern town of Goma, capital of North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The CTO provides medical and psychosocial care, as well as family tracing and reunification services.

Photo credit: © UNICEF/NYHQ2005-0433/Roger LeMoyne


VIDEO REPORT: Protecting children from armed conflict

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution designed to end impunity for those who abuse children during armed conflict.

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CAN YOU SEE ME? Gadir (age 13)
Gadir studies in a school laboratory, which has been repurposed as a kitchen, in Idlib Governorate in the Syrian Arab Republic. She has lived in the school for 10 months, having fled fighting in her village that left her family’s home destroyed. She has been unable to attend school for the past three years. By the end of 2013, the conflict had caused nearly 2 million Syrian children aged 6–15 years to drop out of school during the preceding academic year.

© UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti

Get involved and learn more about how UNICEF is helping the children of Syria

CAN YOU SEE ME? Emmanual (age 11)

Emmanual [NAME CHANGED], at a UNICEF-supported shelter and reintegration centre for children recently released from armed groups, in Goma, DR Congo. To escape abuse at home, Emmanual joined the militia, where he served as a commander’s bodyguard. He received weapons training, participated in fighting and witnessed the torture and killing of a prisoner. Years later, conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to leave children at risk of forced recruitment.

©UNICEF/Roger LeMoyne

Learn more about UNICEF and the DR Congo HERE

More info about “children and armed conflict” HERE

“Seeing the impact of our work on the most vulnerable…that’s my main source of satisfaction and my greatest driver.”

Cristian Mazzei,  Executive Officer of the Director in Governance, UN and Multilateral Affairs, UNICEF HQ, New York  

What does the average working day look like for an Executive Officer?

Busy! Keeping abreast of all developments in the Division and in UNICEF at large; monitoring issues that require the Director’s actions; coordinating the work of the budget focal-point; providing guidance on procedures, human and financial resources: organizing office management meetings: following-up on decisions. In a nutshell, long hours in front of the computer and around the corridors with colleagues.

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"We need to stop war, to stop the violations against children"

Today, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict. Alhaji Babah Sawaneh, pictured with our Executive Director Anthony Lake, was the first former child soldier to address the Security Council in 2001, when he was only 14. He recalled how he was abducted as a child and forced to fight in Sierra Leone’s violent conflict, and how once he fled, he received support to reintegrate into society.

Now he’s back to tell his story again – with an update. Two years ago, he finished a degree in peace and conflict resolution and now he works on peacebuilding in his country. “We need to speak out, to change the equation. We need to stop war, to stop the violations against children,” he said.

Find out more about the #CHILDRENnotSoldiers campaign we’re jointly running with The Office of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict: