Adolescents in Humanitarian Action

Adolescents, defined by the United Nations as all human beings ages 10-19 are a population group profoundly affected by any crisis, at tremendous risk of death, injury, and nonfulfillment of their rights to protection, education, and participation. They are the age group most often recruited by armed forces as child soldiers. They are the primary target for sexual violence and commercial sex, run a high risk of HIV/ AIDS infection and are most likely to be trafficked for exploitative labour. However, historically this age group has been the least reached with effective, relevant programmes and support, as humanitarian assistance has typically focused on the urgent survival needs of under-five children. Fewer interventions still have been addressed to adolescents' unique needs across subgroups - boys, girls, those with disabilities, those affected by fighting forces, those from marginalized ethnic groups or clans.

Adolescents have the potential to be assets for their families and communities in humanitarian contexts, and often find ways to use their energy and creativity to solve problems and contribute to positive possibilities, with and without support from UNICEF and other actors. They have the right to voicing their own priorities and interests in recovery and peacebuilding processes, and to contribute as actors and partners. In recent years UNICEF had expanded its capacity to reach, support and collaborate with adolescents as agents of positive change in humanitarian contexts. These efforts have included strengthening institutional knowledge of this age group and how they are affected by conflict and other emergencies, especially by consulting with adolescents from diverse groups and perspectives. UNICEF at the global level is also leveraging innovative, promising approaches that have been undertaken in the field, using those to develop new programme resources and tools to support country programmes initiating timely, effective programming response for adolescents at all stages of the humanitarian action cycle.

Guidelines and Tools

The Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation: A kit of guidance, tools and supplies to reach and engage adolescents in humanitarian contexts, UNICEF, 2015 (available in draft form)
Adolescent as Peacebuilders Toolkit, UNICEF, 2016
Engaging Adolescents in Conflict Analysis Guidance Note, UNICEF, 2013
Peacebuilding Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills: Desk Review and Recommendations, UNICEF, 2013
Youth, Education and Peacebuilding Policy Forum Paper, UNESCO, 2012
A Kit of Tools for Participatory Research and Evaluation with Children, Young People and Adults Handbook, Save the Children, 2008
Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Toolkit for Humanitarian Settings, UNFPA, Save the Children, 2009
Annotated Bibliography: Education for Youth Affected by Crisis , INEE, 2009
The Participation of Children and Young People in Emergencies, UNICEF, 2007
Peacebuilding and Young People Summary Report, War Child, 2007
Children and Extreme Violence: Insights from Social Science on Child Trajectories Into and Out Of Non-State Armed Groups in Contemporary Conflict, UNU, 2017
Children and Extreme Violence: Insights from Criminology on Children and Youth Trajectories Into and Out of Non-State Armed Groups – access direct to PDF and Website, UNU, 2017
Children and Extreme Violence: Viewing Non-State Armed Groups from a Brand Marketing Lens: A Case Study of Islamic State - access direct to PDF and Website, UNU, 2017
An Enabling Right: Education for Adolescents and Youth Affected by Crisis, INEE, IASC Education Cluster, 2010