Around the globe, an estimated 11.2 million to 13.7 million children have been internally displaced as a result of armed conflict. Forced displacement uproots children and youths at a time when their lives most need stability.

Displacement compounds children’s vulnerability

During flight from conflict zones, families and children are often exposed to multiple physical dangers. They are threatened by attacks, shelling, and landmines, and must often walk for days with only limited quantities of water and food. Under such circumstances, children often become acutely undernourished and prone to illness, and death. Girls are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse during displacement.

Many children abandon home to avoid forced recruitment, only to find that displacement exposes them to the risk of recruitment, especially if they have no documentation and travel alone. Moreover, internally displaced children often lack access to education and health services.

The rights of IDP children

Children in armed conflict who are internally displaced have rights just as all other children. Their rights are expressly guaranteed in an extensive body of human rights and humanitarian law.

These rights and guarantees include:

  • the principle of non-discrimination
  • the right to documentation
  • protection from violence and abuse
  • the rights to essential services
  • the requirements that when dealing with internally displaced children the best interest of the child must prevail.

The Working Paper on The Rights and Guarantees of Internally Displaced Children in Armed Conflict offers guidance to governments and other humanitarian actors in how to advocate for their rights and provide adequate protection.