Integrating Child Protection and Education in Humanitarian Action
by Audrey Bollier, Hani Mansourian
Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action
In the year 2018, 1 in 6 children (or 357 million children) face protection concerns and educational barriers due to armed conflict. This increases to 1 in 4 children when we consider the impact of natural disasters and conflict together.
These conditions simultaneously increase children’s vulnerability to violence or exploitation and hinder their access to education and its related benefits.
Children''s exposure to violence and their absence from education can negatively impact their life-long mental, physical and psychosocial health and that of future generations.
Girls face unique risks. Higher levels of education are associated with delayed childbirth and marriage and lower child mortality figures, yet girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.
The consequences extend beyond personal wellbeing. Estimates place the financial cost of physical, sexual and psychological violence towards children as high as $97 billion a year, or 8% of global GDP.
Integrating child protection and education creates a mutually-reinforcing cycle that can reduce children’s vulnerability in emergencies. A quality education increases children and families’ resilience in adversity, empowers children and promotes a protective environment.
An environment free from unchecked child abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation fosters quality education. Integrating child protection and education programmes, policies and minimum standards maximises available resources to better address the multifaceted challenges and risks children face in humanitarian settings.
Protecting Children – From Commitments to Action
For decades, world leaders have been declaring their unconditional commitment to children’s physical, mental, and psychosocial safety and development in emergencies by crafting national child protection laws and policies and ratifying international and regional children’s rights conventions.
Among these are:
The Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) on the right to education during war and occupation; The Convention on the Rights of the Child affording children rights to education (1989); The UN Security Council''s (UNSC) first resolution on children and armed conflict (1999); UNSC Resolution 1612 (2005) on the monitoring and reporting of six grave violations committed against children in armed conflict; UNSC Resolution 1998 (2011) on the concept of schools and hospitals as safe havens that should be inviolate even in times of armed conflict; and The Safe Schools Declaration on the responsibility of political leaders to protect and provide education during armed conflict (2015).
Despite these written commitments, education and child protection remain underfunded and under- prioritised by national development planners and donors. Education receives only 2% of all humanitarian aid. Child protection fares worse: in 2015, less than 0.6% of the US$174 billion devoted to official development assistance went to ending violence against children.
The UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing proposed the ''Grand Bargain'', an agreement between more than 30 of the biggest donors and aid providers, to increase humanitarian aid.
It is time, however, to move “from delivering aid to ending need”. Actors at all levels--donors, policy makers, and practitioners--must invest in securing funding for joint child protection and education programmes that can both meet immediate needs and create a sustainable foundation for future generations.
Children—particularly refugee, internally-displaced or stateless children—face significant protection issues in all humanitarian crises. These include the full range of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation: physical, sexual, emotional, and social.
Risks for children in humanitarian settings vary depending on gender and age. Girls are often overlooked in child protection responses yet face specific risks as a result of both their gender and age.
These include risks of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage. Girls face additional barriers to accessing education in humanitarian settings and their exclusion from education can contribute to protection risks and the entrenchment of gender inequalities.
Child protection practitioners and education providers should serve as reciprocal referrers. Child protection actors can facilitate children’s access to education while education providers can identify and refer vulnerable children and situations.
Effective and holistic child protection enhances other humanitarian efforts, including education.
All children everywhere have the right to protection and a quality education. International humanitarian law affords children, at minimum, a primary education and basic human rights, even in times of war. Children themselves value protection and education.
Safe schools support safe students. Schools free from external and internal threats can educate in job skills, health care, abuse prevention, danger avoidance, and more.
Education and child protection need greater investment of humanitarian aid. Current funding is insufficient for the educational and protection needs of children and communities, especially those affected by protracted crises.
Integrated solutions should build on and strengthen existing protective structures.
Collaborating with local actors increases the relevance, acceptance, and sustainability of interventions. Integration capitalises on limited resources to meet the full range of children''s needs. Integrated solutions build capacity to enable fewer people to sustainably meet more needs with fewer resources.
Field-level interventions require country-level support. Coordinating—and assessing the effectiveness of—country-level laws, policies, programmes, and emergency interventions is essential to changing harmful traditional practices, eliminating ineffective or redundant interventions, and upholding children’s rights.
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Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2018
by WHO, Unicef, UN Population Division
Children from the highest mortality countries are up to 60 times more likely to die in the first five years of life than those from the lowest mortality countries.
An estimated 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, or 1 every 5 seconds, mostly of preventable causes, according to new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank.
The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths.
"Without urgent action, 56 million children under five will die from now until 2030 – half of them newborns," said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy. "We have made substantial progress to save children since 1990, but millions are still dying because of who they are and where they are born. With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child."
Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths under five years of age took place in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 30 per cent in Southern Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 children died before their fifth birthday. In high-income countries, that number was 1 in 185.
"Millions of babies and children should not still be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services," said Dr. Princess Nono Simelela, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children''s Health at WHO. "We must prioritize providing universal access to quality health services for every child, particularly around the time of birth and through the early years, to give them the best possible chance to survive and thrive."
Most children under 5 die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis and malaria. By comparison, among children between 5 and 14 years of age, injuries become a more prominent cause of death, especially from drowning and road traffic. Within this age group, regional differences also exist, with the risk of dying for a child from sub-Saharan Africa 15 times higher than in Europe.
"More than six million children dying before their fifteenth birthday is a cost we simply can''t afford," said Timothy Evans, Senior Director and Head of the Health Nutrition and Population Global Practice at the World Bank. "Ending preventable deaths and investing in the health of young people is a basic foundation for building countries human capital, which will drive their future growth and prosperity."
For children everywhere, the most risky period of life is the first month. In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month. A baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than a baby born in a high-income country. And progress towards saving newborns has been slower than for other children under five years of age since 1990.
Even within countries, disparities persist. Under-five mortality rates among children in rural areas are, on average, 50 per cent higher than among children in urban areas. In addition, those born to uneducated mothers are more than twice as likely to die before turning five than those born to mothers with a secondary or higher education.
These deaths – particularly the regional and socio-economic disparities – reflect the broader influence of sustainable social and economic development on children’s health. Basic health services like vaccination, medical treatment, adequate nutrition and clean water and sanitation become matters of life and death when children and young adolescents don’t have access to them.
Reducing inequalities is essential for ending these preventable childhood deaths, and for ensuring that no one is left behind.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said: "Reducing inequality by assisting the most vulnerable newborns, children and mothers is essential for achieving the target of the Sustainable Development Goals on ending preventable childhood deaths and for ensuring that no one is left behind."
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