A new report launched on Friday by aid agency Save the Children reveals huge funding gaps for child protection in humanitarian crises – leaving children unprotected from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, even as they face conflict, displacement and disaster.

A new study undertaken by Save the Children on behalf of The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, finds that on average, a mere 0.5 per cent of total humanitarian funding is allocated to protecting children from harm.

Although the number of children living in conflict-affected areas has almost doubled since 1990, and abuses like rape, recruitment as child soldiers, abductions and other grave violations against children have almost tripled since 2010, activities that aim to increase children’s protection from these and other harms remain alarmingly underfunded.

As Canada’s political parties identify their foreign policy priorities ahead of the federal election, Save the Children is calling on all parties to ensure the rights, survival and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable children – those caught in deadly warzones – are prioritized.

Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada explains:

“An estimated 420 million girls and boys are trapped in horrific conflict: bombed, denied life-saving aid, recruited as child soldiers, and raped.  In these contexts, children are telling us that more than anything, they need protection and education. They believe the world has forgotten them.

“This report is a timely wake-up call for our country’s leaders to take action and respond to children’s urgent need for protection. The leaders of our country must send a clear signal that we have not forgotten or forsaken the most vulnerable among us. That we can, and will invest where children need our support most. This must include protecting these children from further harm.”

The report “Unprotected: Crisis in Humanitarian Funding for Child Protection” finds that although the overall humanitarian funding has increased over the last decade, including the funding allocated to child protection interventions, the need for child protection interventions has increased even more. In countries like Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, only 18 per cent and 25 per cent of the funding requirements for child protection were met in 2018.

Child protection is defined as the prevention and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation of children and violence against children.

“In practical terms, this means a range of different activities such as preventing recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups and supporting children’s reintegration into their families and communities. We also advocate for ending attacks on schools and hospitals, providing quality mental health and psycho-social services, preventing family separation and reunifying children who are separated. Activities also include safe spaces for children in emergencies, and case management for the most vulnerable and children at risk,” says Hani Mansourian from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action.

The thousands of children traced and reunited with their families in South Sudan are some of many examples of effective child protection interventions. Reuniting children with their families is perhaps the most effective way of protecting them.

The study finds that funding for child protection falls extremely short of the needs. Child protection consists of various activities and cost estimations vary between regions and local context. But the study finds that to provide high-quality case management with referral to service provision and restoring family links, an average of US$ 800 is needed per child.

The report calls on donors to bolster the funding to child protection activities from 0.5 per cent to at least 4 per cent of total humanitarian funding to start closing this gap. The report also calls on humanitarian actors to prioritize child protection activities in their funding requests and humanitarian appeals.

“Today, one in five children live in conflict-affected settings, and they depend on us to take joint and immediate action to protect them from grave violations of their rights. We must stop the war on children, and that starts with investing the necessary funds needs to protect children in conflict,” says Bill Chambers.


Note to editor:

Graph visualising the funding gap in child protection is attached.

The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action is a global, interagency group that sets standards and provide technical support to ensure that efforts to protect children from violence and exploitation are of high-quality and effective.

The Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR) is specifically focused on enhancing child protection coordination and response in humanitarian contexts (as defined as Humanitarian Coordinator and Early Warning contexts). CP AoR ensures that the efforts of national and international actors to protect children are well-coordinated, achievi

Media Contact

For additional information please contact Jessica Bryant, Head of Communications, Media and PR:



About Save the Children

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In Canada and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.