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Conflict and Humanitarian

Children face the threat of conflict

Children are living in fear of their lives due to conflicts they have no part in or control over

More than a century ago, the founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb spoke these words: “All wars, whether just or unjust, disastrous or victorious, are waged against the child”. They resonate with even greater urgency today, as conflict rages on with flagrant disregard for children’s rights and protection.  

It is witnessed by the Syrian child whose home was destroyed by shelling, and whose friends were killed when an airstrike hit her school. It is witnessed by the Sudanese child who can no longer attend school because it has been turned into a military outpost. It is witnessed by Ukrainian children, who were forced to hide underground for an average of more than one month in the first year of full-scale war. And it is witnessed by the Malian child who was forcibly recruited into an armed group as a messenger.

Almost one in five children globally is now living in or fleeing conflict zones. In 2023, child humanitarian needs have soared. There were a record 27,638 verified grave violations against children in 2022—an alarming 13% increase from 2021. The denial of humanitarian access is on the rise, making it difficult for children to receive lifesaving aid and necessary services.

The climate crisis is further threatening children’s lives and futures, fuelling cycles of conflict and hunger. In many conflict zones children are increasingly exposed to the use of explosive weapons – rockets, mortars, grenades, mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This contributes to an increasing incidence of blast injuries. The establishment of the Centre for Paediatric Blast Injury Studies was driven by the profound impact of these injuries on children. 

Even wars must have limits.

War is putting children at risk as never before. Millions of children continue to be among the principal victims of serious violations of human rights and crimes under international law, their rights routinely violated. At the same time, crimes against children are under-reported, under-investigated and under-prosecuted and international criminal justice mechanisms, have not listened enough to their voices or their experiences. Therefore, we actively support and provide guidance on children's access to justice, seeing it as a crucial step in recognizing the wrongs they have suffered and breaking cycles of violence.

Our commitment extends to pushing for governments around the world to make sure that children caught up in conflict are protected. States and armed actors must uphold standards of conduct in conflict, hold perpetrators of violations to account and take practical action to help children on the ground. 

Advocating for change, we call for the endorsement and implementation of the ‘Safe Schools Declaration’, endorsing a political declaration committing to the avoidance of explosive weapons in populated areas that have such terrible impacts on children and champion accountability for grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict. 

Operating as part of a movement that works in 120 countries, our department designs and implements change-making strategies. We use all our skills to combine lobbying, policy, research, campaigning and media into one agile, powerful engine for change. 

Our current focus is on protecting children in conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, the Sahel and other crises. 

We aim to expand the collaborative space for humanitarians, civil society, local communities, defence actors, researchers, medics, media, and private sector professionals to raise awareness of the impact of conflict and crises on children and to create solutions for strengthening their protection.   

Our Priorities

  1. Calling for the UK Government to push for an end to conflict and violence in Gaza and across the region and for the removal of impediments to delivering aid to children.
  2. Calling on the UK Government to agree an ambitious new strategy on children and armed conflict.
  3. Demanding accountability for crimes and violations committed against children in conflict to bring child victims one step closer to the effective remedies, reparations, and accountability they deserve.
  4. Pushing for States to endorse and implement tools such as the ‘Safe Schools Declaration’ and implement its associated guidelines and the “Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas”
  5. Calling for protection and access to assistance for children in all conflict zones.
  6. Ensuring for sustainable humanitarian and recovery funding and programming for children in Ukraine, including the most vulnerable, and maximise the global impact of war in Ukraine on humanitarian and conflict emergencies worldwide.  

Key reports

Blast Injuries: The impact of explosive weapons on children in conflict 

Stop the War on Children: Let Children Live in Peace

Hunger – A Lethal Weapon of War: The impact of conflict-related hunger on children

Defenceless: The Impact of Israeli Military Detention on Palestinian Children

Advancing Justice for Children: Innovations to strengthen accountability for crimes against children. 

Horrors I will never forget: the stories of Rohingya children 

Read the latest blogs on Conflict

our experts

James Denselow

James Denselow

Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy

James has spent more than 15 years working on and in the Middle East, including time living in Syria and Lebanon. He previously worked at Chatham House, MAP and Crisis Action.

He has an MA from Kings College London and a BA from Exeter. He is a contributing author to An Iraq of Its Regions: Cornerstones of a federal democracy and America and Iraq: Policy-making, intervention and regional politics since 1958. He is a Research Associate at the Foreign Policy Centre and a Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies.

Véronique Aubert

Children and Armed Conflict Lead 

Véronique leads on Children and Armed Conflict. She recently co-authored with Oxford University the report, Advancing Justice for Children (March 2021), that explores the barriers—and potential solutions—regarding accountability for crimes and violations against children in conflict. She also served (2012-2021) as Co-Chair of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), and was actively involved in advocacy around the development and implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration, while also involved in the publication of the Education under Attack flagship report.

Prior to this Véronique was the Deputy Director of the Africa Programme and Researcher on the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat.

She has a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Liz Bradshaw

Liz Bradshaw

Senior Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser


Liz joined Save the Children four years ago working on protecting children affected by conflict and crisis. She focuses particularly on the Middle East and Afghanistan and has deployed to Save the Children’s Iraq and Afghanistan country responses. Before taking up her current role she worked as a Senior Adviser in the Politics & Public Affairs team.

Liz previously worked in advocacy roles for a range of organizations, including Amnesty International, and in the UK Parliament. She holds a Masters degree in International Public Policy from University College London and a BA from Cambridge University.

Narmina Strishenets

Narmina Strishenets

Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser


Narmina Strishenets is a Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser at Save the Children UK who joined the team in July 2022. She is a Ukraine response advocacy lead and is co-leading Save the Children UK work on protecting children from explosive weapons in conflict zones. Narmina is also a Co-Chair of the BOND Ukraine Humanitarian Working Group, a coalition of UK-based INGOs, coordinating the Ukraine crisis response with the UK FCDO. From 2017 until 2022, she led advocacy and communications at the UN Women Ukraine country office and supported UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office in Turkey focusing on women's and girls' rights, women, peace and security agenda, and gender-based violence. Earlier in her career, she contributed to international initiatives on public health and education with UNICEF HQ in New York. Narmina holds a postgraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.

Emma Forster

Emma Forster

Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser


Emma has more than 7 years of experience working in humanitarian policy and advocacy. Prior to her current role, Emma worked in Syria, Northeast Nigeria, Mozambique and Sri Lanka. She previously worked for the Norwegian Refugee Council and the British Red Cross. Emma holds a Masters in International Development from the University of Edinburgh and a Master of Arts from the University of Glasgow. 

Pia Podieh

Pia Podieh

Roving Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser


Pia Podieh is the Roving Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser and deploys to support Save the Children’s humanitarian responses in a variety of conflict, disaster-relief, and slow-onset responses.  

Prior to Save the Children, Pia worked as a security and stability consultant, with a focus on conflict analysis and civil-military coordination, as well as on human rights issues with Amnesty International. She holds an MSc in Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice from SOAS, University of London.

Aneta Jamecna

Aneta Jamecna

Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Senior Officer


Aneta is a Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Senior Officer. She is particularly focusing on child refugee rights in the UK and is working closely with the UKI.

Prior to Save the Children, Aneta worked as a research associate at the Habitat for Humanity as well as international conflict research at the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research in Hamburg. She holds a Master's in Conflict, Security & Development from the Department of War Studies at King's College London.