Armed conflicts are a global scourge with devastating effects on children. Estimated numbers of child victims of armed conflicts during the past decade:

Killed: 2 million.

Disabled: 4-5 million.

Left homeless: 12 million.

Orphaned or separated from their families: more than 1 million.

Psychologically traumatized: some 10 million.


In recent years, in some 25 countries, thousands of children under age 16 have fought in wars. In 1988 alone, there were as many as 200,000 child combatants.


In 1995, 53 million people - one out of every 115 people on earth - were uprooted from their homes, either displaced within their countries or refugees across borders.

Women and children usually comprise 80% of the refugee and displaced populations.

Up to 5% of refugee populations - often more in cases of panic evacuation - are children separated from their families.


War leaves emotional, as well as physical, scars on children - trauma that can cause long-term developmental difficulties unless recognized and treated.

A nationwide UNICEF survey of 3,000 children in Rwanda in 1995 found that they had been exposed to "unprecedented levels of exposure to traumatic events" during the genocidal massacres in 1994: over 95% of the children witnessed massacres, and over a third had seen the murders of family members; almost all believed they would die; and nearly two thirds were threatened with death. Over 80% had had to hide to protect themselves, many for up to 8 weeks or longer.


In 64 countries, an estimated 110 million of these hidden killers - 1 for every 20 children around the world - lie in wait for unsuspecting footfalls.

Financial costs: $3 to $10 to buy one; $300 to $1000 to remove one.

Human costs: 800 deaths a month, mostly innocent civilians, with thousands more maimed for life.

(article taken from Unicef; the Voices of Youth at www.unicef.org)