Armed conflicts have changed in complexity and nature over the past few decades magnifying health challenges for children.  Conflict impacts children’s health in four important ways.  First, conflict‐driven displacement increases child death and injury, mainly through increased susceptibility to infectious disease from unsanitary living conditions.  A case study on Southern Sudan illustrates that conflict reduces sanitation, clean water, and health services making it difficult to stop the spread of neglected tropical diseases, such as visceral leishmaniasis and trachoma.  Second, children have a higher risk of food insecurity and malnutrition during times of conflict.  The country case of Chad illustrates that food insecurity is heightened by the resettlement of displaced people leading to higher rates of malnutrition.   Third, children, especially girls, are subjected to an increased risk of sexual violence from armed combatants during conflict.  Rape has been a prevalent component of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo causing increased risk of psychological trauma, unwanted pregnancy, and susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections.  Fourth, conflict induces long‐term physical and psychological disability in children, especially among child soldiers.  In Afghanistan, rehabilitation and educational interventions are critical in improving the health outcomes of children.

Author Unesco