Children affected by armed conflict, 1990-2019 – World

Østby, Gudrun; Siri Aas Rustad & Andreas Forø Tollefsen (2020) Children Affected by Armed Conflict, 1990–2019, Conflict Trends, 6. Oslo: PRIO.

Brief points

The number of children living in conflict zones has been increasing since 2000.

  • In 2019, 1.6 billion children (69%) lived in a country affected by conflict.

  • About 426 million children (more than one in six) lived in a conflict zone in 2019. This represents a 2% increase compared to 2018.

  • In 2019, Africa was the region of the world with the highest number of children living in conflict zones (179 million), while the Middle East had the highest proportion of children living in conflict zones (40%).

  • In 2019, more than 71 million children aged 0-5 lived in areas that had experienced conflict all their lives.

While armed conflicts and crises affect people of all ages, children are particularly susceptible to the effects of war. In 2019, nearly two-thirds of the world’s children lived in a country affected by conflict. Around 426 million children – more than one in six – lived within 50 km of the scene of the fighting. Despite improving demographic data, we still need more systematic knowledge of how these children are directly and indirectly affected by armed conflict, for example through killing and maiming, recruitment of child soldiers, sexual exploitation, denial of humanitarian access and poor health conditions.