UN News’ 2019 article states the following:

“In the 20 conflict situations monitored in the 2018 edition of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, released Tuesday, more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed that year.


A ‘disheartened’ Secretary-General António Guterres said that he was “particularly appalled” by the unprecedented numbers of grave violations committed against children.

Children continue to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria: some 7,000 have been drawn into frontline fighting roles around the world, during 2018. They also continue to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence: more than half of the 2,500 reported cases were in Somalia.


Some 933 cases of sexual violence against boys and girls were reported, but this is believed to be an under-estimate, due to lack of access, stigma and fear of reprisals.

Attacks on schools and hospitals have decreased overall, but have intensified in some conflict situations, such as Afghanistan and Syria, which has seen the highest number of such attacks since the beginning of the conflict in the country.

Mali provides the most serious example of children being deprived of access to education, and the military use of schools: 827 schools in Mali closed at the end of December 2018, denying some 244,00 children access to education.


“It is immensely sad that children continue to be disproportionately affected by armed conflict, and it is horrific to see them killed and maimed as a result of hostilities”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba. “Parties to conflict must protect children and put in place tangible measures to end and prevent these violations”.”

War is a phenomenon which affects millions of lives each day. A great number of the affected people are children whose lives change irreversibly by the horrors which they encounter on a daily basis. Even more gruelling than the regular violations of basic human rights is the use of children as child soldiers. The UN reports that tens of thousands of have been recruited to take part in armed conflicts. Not only do children fight, but they are used in war-related industries and as slaves after often having been abducted and subjected to submission. These traumas do not solely cause physical mutilation but also mental health problems.


Key Definitions

Child Soldier - A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. 

Mental Health - the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally that is characterized by the absence of mental illness and by adequate adjustment especially as reflected in feeling comfortable.

about oneself, positive feelings about others, and the ability to meet the demands of daily life. also : the general condition of one's mental and emotional state 

Conflict Affected Area - an area in a state of armed conflict, fragile post-conflict areas, as well as areas witnessing weak or non-existing governance and security, such as failed states, and widespread and systematic violations of international law, including human rights abuses. 


General Overview

In many conflicts children take direct part in combat. However, their role is not limited to fighting. Many girls and boys are also used in support functions that also entail great risk and hardship.

Their tasks can vary, from combatants to cooks, spies, messengers and even sex slaves. Moreover, the use of children for acts of terror, including as suicide bombers, has emerged as a phenomenon of modern warfare. Each year, the UN receives reports of children as young as 8 or 9 years old associated with armed groups.


No matter their role, child soldiers are exposed to acute levels of violence – as witnesses, direct victims and as forced participants. Some are injured and have to live with disabilities for the rest of their lives.


Girls are also recruited and used by armed forces and groups. They have vulnerabilities unique to their gender and place in society and suffer specific consequences including, but not limited to, rape and sexual violence, pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications, stigma and rejection by families and communities.

Former Attempts to Solve the Issue and Possible solutions

From 2008 to 2010, UNICEF and its non-governmental partner COOPI provided assistance to 1,570 children formerly associated with armed forces or groups, including 585 girls and 764 boys associated with the LRA. Thirty-three non-Congolese children were repatriated – including 18 from Sudan, 12 from the Central African Republic and 3 from Uganda. To protect children during their return to a normal life, they are hosted in UNICEF-assisted families. “We use the community to host these children. Apart from the security issue, their integration is easier when they are, from the beginning, accommodated in local families,” explains Andrea Burelli, UNICEF’s Head of Office in Dungu. To help the demobilized children start a new life, UNICEF also provide demobilization kits with shoes, hygiene articles and civilian clothes. 

Right now, 16 action plans are being implemented in war zones which use child soldiers. We suggest you look up the following site to obtain more information:



Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRAs). (2018). Retrieved November 12, 2019, from website:

Definition of MENTAL HEALTH. (2019). Retrieved from website:

Tremblay, S. (2019, November 14). Action Plans. Retrieved February 2, 2020, from

Tremblay, S., & The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts. (2019, April 17). Child Recruitment and Use. Retrieved February 2, 2020, from

UN News. (2019, August 3). New UN report shows record number of children killed and maimed in. Retrieved February 2, 2020,