Number of Children in War Continues to Climb

Dec. 19, 2022

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The number of children living in high-intensity conflict zones has risen by nearly 10 per cent to total 230 million children. With this figure expected to increase dramatically as a result of the Ukraine war, our commitment to children affected by armed conflict has never been greater.

230 Million Children in War

A new report* by Save the Children and the Peace Research Institute Oslo charts this alarming increase - up from nearly 200 million in 2020.

This means that more than half of the children living in a conflict zone - i.e. anywhere within a 50km radius of armed conflict - are spending their days right in the midst of the violence itself.

Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territory - both countries where War Child is active - were identified as the top two countries with the highest number of children who were killed or maimed. In addition, the Middle East topped the charts as the region with the highest proportion of children living in conflict zones - one-third of the youth population.

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The 2021 escalation across Gaza and the West Bank saw many grave violations committed against children

Photo: War Child

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In conflict zones, children are exposed to everything from armed fighting to death with a big impact on their mental health

Photo: War Child

The Rights of the Child

Waking up in this environment poses a direct threat to children’s lives and prevents them from claiming their fundamental rights - including their right to mental health.

“When a child witnesses war and violence; even death first hand, the impact on their psychological wellbeing is severe and long-lasting”, says War Child CEO Ramin Shahzamani. “In times of war, children’s surrounding social environment also changes drastically - with the structures that serve to protect them often breaking down.”

“By incorporating what we call “psychosocial support” into everything we do, War Child seeks to address both these aspects and catch symptoms of mental illness early.”

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We do everything we can to catch psychological distress and other worrying symptoms early

Photo: War Child


War Child is adopting a new structure to help it reach many more children fast

Photo: War Child

Changing our Ways of Doing

While our approach to prioritise psychosocial support in our humanitarian responses and longer-term development projects is gaining traction, this new figure tells us that we need to do more.

In addition, the report findings emphasise the far-reaching impact of the Ukraine war with the 230 million expected to skyrocket by this time next year as well as the number of refugee children worldwide. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - we need new ways of working; faster ways of growing if we have any hope of making a difference in these children’s lives”, says Shahzamani.

The year ahead will see us accelerate towards this goal with a new, more efficient and shared way of working firmly in the pipeline.

Learn more about our Global Shared Platform here.

*The data featured in Save the Children’s latest Stop the War on Children report and in this article was collected over the course of 2021.