What We Do

“Not hundreds, not thousands but millions more children in the Middle East and North Africa region have their childhood stolen, maimed for life, traumatised, arrested and detained, exploited, prevented from going to school and from getting the most essential health services; denied even the basic right to play.”

Geert Cappelaere

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

Change a Child's Life
Children with Disabilities in the Middle East

Children are often caught in the crossfire, and become even more vulnerable when their parents are killed. All too often they are recruited to fight. Young boys have been tasked with marching ahead of older fighters to clear minefields. Still others were sent on suicide missions, with many promised an eternal place in paradise. These children have paid the highest price for wars which are absolutely not their responsibility. Their young lives were cut short; their families forever broken in grief.

Surviving children of violent conflicts are affected in different ways. There are not only the more obvious physical wounds, but also the deep psychological wounds that may take years to diagnose and treat – both are devastating.

According to the United Nations, in 2018 the maiming and killing of children in war torn areas reached record levels since monitoring began in 2005.1



Barrell bombs, air strikes, and cluster munitions resulted in 1,854 child casualties in 2018. From January 2019 through the end of June, more than 530 children were killed or injured, and nearly 300 were recruited for or utilized in combat. Since 2014, more than 4,500 children have been killed, and over 3,000 have been severely injured. Sadly, more than 3,800 children have been recruited and used in combat in this region.2


Approximately 132 children (27 girls and 105 boys) were killed or maimed in 2018 (48 killed, 84 maimed). Nearly half of these child casualties were caused by explosive remnants of war such as improvised explosive devices; others from small arms and light weapons fire and structure explosions.


A total of 14 child casualties (13 boys, 1 girl) were the result of periodic armed violence and mines and other explosive devices throughout the country.

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In 2018, child casualties in Afghanistan remained the highest at 3,062 (927 killed and 2135 maimed/injured, including 831 girls). Children actually accounted for 28% of all civilian casualties. Children, some as young as 8, were recruited and used for combat, planting improvised explosive devices, and carrying out suicide attacks.

Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

Israeli and Palestinian children remain severely affected by the continuing conflict in this region, including in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. In 2018, 2,756 Palestinian children (2,514 boys, 242 girls), and six Israeli children (4 boys, 2 girls) were injured due to violence. Twenty of the children’s injuries resulted in amputated limbs.


There were 1,689 child casualties in 2018, including 576 killed (430 boys, 143 girls, 3 unknown) and 1,113 maimed (815 boys, 298 girls) by ground fighting, air strikes, and unexploded ordnance.

“Once these children suffer a physical disability, they are sentenced to a miserable life where they will forever be inhibited in fulfilling anything more than living. Poor access to rehabilitation services, the lack of education, basic handicapped accessibility and the inability to make a normal living leave these children confined to a depressing and hopeless life of disability. They become the burden on their families and communities, unable to contribute and unable to see a glimmer of hope in the distance until the day they will die.”
Ron Weinreich – Founder