AIYD Launches Youth in Focus Blog Series Highlighting Youth Impacted by Conflict

How Global Youth Are Impacted By Conflict


“As millions of children inside Syria and across the region witness their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them becoming a lost generation grows every day."
-UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (March 12, 2013)


Today, 35% of the world's 14 million refugees are between the ages of 12 and 24.
Whether driven by war, religious or ethnic violence, political unrest, natural disaster, competition for scarce resources or any other stimulating conditions, youth the world over are continually impacted by conflict. This often leads to a sense of hopelessness and anger among many of these young populations bereft of opportunities and beset with challenging circumstances that impede personal growth and development vital to the maturation process into adulthood. In camps and on the front lines, youth impacted by conflict and violence must not only face the same growing pains of adolescence and young adulthood as their less-affected peers, but must carve a path for survival and success against a formidable backdrop of violence even adults struggle to contend with.

Syrian refugee children at an ad hoc school in Berkayel, Lebanon.
  Photo courtesy of Peter Biro/IRC

From February to March 2013, the Youth Alliance consulted leading experts in the field among our member organizations to highlight the most pressing issues facing youth in impacted by conflict, including livelihoods among urban refugees, disaster response, war and violence, adolescent sexual health, and access to basic education in times of conflict. These blogs were featured on the AIYD and InterAction websites, the Huffington Post online, and relevant social media networks and distribution lists. 


Samuel Witten | Women's Refugee Commission
Board of Directors
Counsel, Arnold & Porter LLP
The presence of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including countless vulnerable youth, is one of the most familiar-and challenging-aspects of the current Syrian refugee crisis. Most of these displaced youth are living in cities and towns in often desperate conditions, where a very different humanitarian response is required than in traditional camp programming, where most of the long-term expertise in the humanitarian community lies. Read more.
Sharon Morris with Cassandra Nelson | Mercy Corps
Director of Youth and Conflict Management
Director of Multimedia Projects
When disaster strikes, whether it is an earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, or conflict, young survivors are particularly vulnerable. Six miles from the Jordan-Syria border there's a safe haven for more than 20,000 Syrians who have fled their homes. Though far from the fighting, the refugee camp is still a distressing place for children and youth who make up almost half of the population. One of the few escapes the children have is a local playground constructed by Mercy Corps last year. It is hard to miss - just follow the unexpected sound of laughter and you will find swarms of kids swinging, sliding and playfully arguing over whose turn it is. Read more.
Reality for Syrian Refugee Teens

Sarah Smith | International Rescue Committee
Director of Children and Youth Protection Development

Every night, when darkness decreases the chances they'll be shot, an average of 5,000 refugees, half of them children, flee from Syria into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Lana* is only 15 years old and what she has seen and experienced would be unimaginable to typical teenagers. But her story is all too common for Syrian refugees her age. Lana, her mother and an uncle were among nearly 60 Syrians attempting to cross a desert border into Jordan at two o'clock on a moonlit morning last fall. As they approached Jordan, the group came under fire from Syrian border guards. Lana managed to get across the border with others in the group, but her mother and uncle were pinned down behind a boulder for hours. Read more.
Seema Manohar | Save the Children
Emergency Adolescent Reproductive Health Specialist

Lost in transition between childhood and adulthood, adolescence is undoubtedly a daunting phase in one's life. The adolescents I meet are strong and inspiring despite living in the midst of humanitarian crises, witnessing humanity's worst cruelties on a daily basis. They determinedly do not want to be called children. They are right. How can they be labeled as children when their lives are bursting with adult-like responsibilities and decisions? Such adolescents who remain within a nebulous space in emergency health programming and without targeted interventions will routinely remain invisible and alone. Read more.
Cornelia Janke | Education Development Center (EDC)
Senior International Development Specialist and Technical Advisor

As a result of the current conflicts in Syria and Mali, nearly one million children have difficult or no access to education. Thousands of schools have been damaged, destroyed, or used for non-educational purposes. When these conflicts end, schools will lie in ruins, many teachers will have disappeared, and hundreds of thousands of children will have missed critical years of schooling. In many cases, this educational deficit will haunt them for the rest of their lives. One promising way to tackle this kind of education gap is through targeted nonformal basic education. This education method is not a prominent part of education planning in post conflict environments, but it should be. Read more.