War exacts a terrible toll on children and young people. They are murdered and wounded. They are abducted, used as soldiers, suffer sexual abuse and risk life threatening illness. They lose parents, friends and communities, and often have to take on adult roles, protecting and providing for younger children. They lose opportunities to learn and to develop and fulfil their potential. Ultimately, they lose their sense of trust and hope for the future. In 20 countries, the International Rescue Committee is promoting the protection and development of children and young people, from the earliest stages of an emergency, through post-conflict and recovery.
Protecting children from and responding to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence is crucial for girls and boys to live safely and to develop physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. The IRC works with children, families, communities, governments, national and international partners to promote children’s rights and ensure they have the protective environment they need to develop. In particular, the IRC identifies and registers children who have been harmed or are at high risk of being harmed, like separated children or former child soldiers. We ensure children receive the services and support they need, including ensuring children live with their families or in a family-based environment, and receive health care and emotional support. We also ensure that children can take part in activities that help them cope with the difficult environment they are living in.
Youth and Livelihoods
The IRC recognises a close relationship between the marginalisation of youth from education and livelihoods opportunities and the potential for instability and conflict. However, the IRC believes that investment in young people’s human, social and financial assets can enable youth to be positive forces in stabilising, developing and transforming their lives and their communities. IRC Youth and Livelihoods programming offers entrepreneurship training and micro-enterprise development support, apprenticeship and skills-building programmes and youth-friendly financial services. Through innovative programming that includes intensive mentorship, counseling, use of relevant technology and other necessary support mechanisms, the IRC supports young people to develop professionally and personally.
The IRC’s global education strategy is to support children and youth’s access to relevant, high quality and safe learning opportunities. To do this, the IRC supports formal and non-formal learning activities at the early childhood, primary, and post-primary levels that lead to tangible learning outcomes and promote the protection and psychosocial well-being of children and youth. Education plays an important role in the safety and protection of children and youth, and provides daily structure and stability. By providing education during an emergency, the IRC ensures that children and youth do not miss out on critical years of schooling, helps students acquire important life skills that may prevent further conflict and enables youth to develop market-driven skills to increase their livelihood opportunities. In post-crisis and reconstruction settings, the IRC works to rebuild and strengthen the education systems of countries emerging from conflict or crisis.