The United Nations: Youth & Armed Conflict [pdf]. For the last two decades, the United Nations has been at the forefront of efforts to protect children and youth in armed conflict. Today, grave violations are taking place against children and youth in over twenty war-affected countries. As primary victims of armed conflict, young people experience many forms of suffering. They are killed, maimed, orphaned, abducted, deprived of education and health care, and left with deep emotional and physical scars. While girls and women are disproportionately targeted, boys and men are also sexually violated in conflict situations.
They also suffer from other consequences of conflict such as poverty, unemployment, little education, poor governance and the disintegration of families and communities. Children and youth are uniquely vulnerable to involuntary military recruitment. Hundreds of thousands are associated with armed forces, including those of non-State actors. Young people’s participation in conflict has serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being. The changing nature of conflict directly impacts children as war tactics include their use as suicide bombers. Furthermore, systematic attacks are waged on schools. Counter-terrorism strategies can result in collateral damage, including youth casualties.