Protecting Children in Conflict Zones
Universal Birth Registration Campaign
Proper birth registration is one way to protect the rights of children and keep them from being enlisted as child soldiers. Children who are not registered cannot prove their age, family links, or country and place of birth.
Because these children cannot legally prove that they are too young to work or serve in the military, the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict cannot be enforced (UNICEF 2002).
Think—How would you feel if you were abducted from your home but, because you were never registered (either at birth or later), the government of your country never knew you existed and so never looked for you?
Plan has begun campaigns in both Asia and Africa to involve communities in child registration programs. The Unregistered Child project, launched by Plan and UNICEF in 1998, has already helped register 3.2 million children in India and over 4 million in Bangladesh. The Day of the African Child in 2003 started a birth registration campaign in West Africa.
Learn more about Plan’s Universal Birth Registration Campaign.
Plan’s ambitious Conflict Resolution for Adolescents Program trains adolescents in conflict sensitive areas in Colombia to build peace in their own communities. Although a challenge—violence in war-torn Colombia is seen by many as a way of life—the youth of Colombia are determined to bring peace to their communities.
Young people from 31 school and five youth organizations are being given the skills to help them avoid involvement in violence as well as actively promote peaceful conflict resolution. At the end of the three-year project, there will be 36 youth groups and a new 3,000-strong army of peace builders.
In 2004, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose the Conflict Resolution for Adolescents Program as an example of best practice in education at the 47th International Conference on Education in Geneva.
Post-traumatic counseling and support
Children are among the most vulnerable groups in the aftermath of war. Providing support to children amputees and former child soldiers is a moral and social imperative in the recovery and rebuilding processes.
At the end of the conflict in Sierra Leone in 2001, thousands of children were released by the fighting forces. One of the major challenges these children face is successfully reintegrating into society and building a hopeful future.
Plan’s psychosocial trauma and peace education project in Sierra Leone consists of activities that include workshops, counseling sessions, peace clubs and expression activities including drama, games and sports.
Since 1999 Plan has also supported a “RapidEd” project in camps for internally displaced people in Sierra Leone, which combines therapeutic emotional healing activities and self-expression with basic literacy and numeracy education. The methodology, developed by Plan in cooperation with UNESCO, is based on experiences in other war zones.