Key Messages and Considerations for Programming for Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups During the COVID-19 Pandemic, v.1

Every day a child remains with an armed force or group, he or she is at risk of physical, psychological and sexual violence, and even death. Prevention of recruitment; separating children from armed forces and groups; responding to their needs; and supporting the reintegration process are all life- saving interventions. Actions to address the needs of Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (CAAFAG) must continue in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and in coordination with associated response measures.2
In addition to the unique dynamics of each conflict context, the wide-ranging socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and restrictive, or at times repressive, containment measures may have destabilizing effects on conflict-affected countries. This may lead to rapid or unexpected changes to conflict dynamics. Child protection actors should routinely monitor and analyze issues and the risks they may pose including:
• Changes in political and power dynamics due to the pandemic or related containment measures;
• Socioeconomic factors that may drive association of children with armed forces and armed groups
or that may hinder or foster recruitment, release and reintegration;
• Expansion or diversification of crime or illegal markets;
• Exacerbation of existing child protection risks, including gender-based violence and changes in
trends of violence or pre-cursors to violence against vulnerable, minority or other communities or groups.

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