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Building youth resilience in conflict and post-conflict environments

Conflicts that are currently taking place around the world have subjected the international community to numerous challenges. One of the groups that is most affected at the moment and will be affected in the future is youth. It is estimated that there are approximately 300,000 armed children and youths that are living in conflict zones, half of them being girls. These young people are forced to live in constant violation of their rights by being exposed to forced labor, recruitment into militias, mutilation, abduction, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of necessary humanitarian aid. Many of them are displaced, separated from their families, or orphaned, and must undertake a long process to rebuild their lives after war. An estimated 60 per cent of preventable maternal deaths happen in places afflicted by political conflict, displacement and natural disasters.

As the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA is encouraging young people to take control of their bodies and their futures by providing them with a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services. Ending the unmet need for family planning, preventing maternal death, and gender-based violence and harmful practices including child marriage and female genital mutilation have become the biggest challenges that the agency is facing due to ungracious conditions in countries affected by ongoing conflicts.

It is appraised that in the current conflict in Gaza at the moment there are 50,000 pregnant women, from whom 840 women may experience pregnancy or birth-related complications. Aware of the aforementioned numbers, UNFPA is dispatching life-saving reproductive health medicines and supplies to Egypt for stockpiling and transportation across the border into Gaza. UNFPA is also present in the Republic of Moldova and other countries near Ukraine, responding to the protection and health needs of refugees, most of whom are women and girls. About one-third of the refugees from the recent Karabakh crisis are reportedly under 18. According to UN officials, it is uncertain whether many of Karabakh’s former inhabitants will choose to return to this region, and having that in mind UNFPA is working on the improvement of their lives after the conflict by, e.g., creating two safe spaces where women and girls can access psychosocial support, health care and legal services are already running and three more are in the works. 

UNFPA's work in conflict and post-conflict environments is multifaceted and comprehensive, addressing a range of critical issues related to sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and population well-being. Its efforts are aimed at not only providing immediate relief but also building the capacity of communities to recover, thrive, and ultimately, lead self-sustained lives. The way to do so is by developing strategies before, during, and in post-conflict, focusing on rehabilitation, and education as key factors for the inclusion of youth into communities, building networks, and peacebuilding operations.

Further discussion is required to address numerous questions.
1. What is the adequate support for young people in order to safely overcome the challenges of the environment in which they find themselves?
2. What can we do regarding mandatory access to schools and health in war-endangered countries? 
3. In what direction to work after the war so that the youth can evolve as fast as possible?



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