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​Save the Children's report Stop the War on Children: A crisis of recruitment shows that, in 2020, almost all children in Syria and Yemen were at risk of recruitment by armed actors.

​Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan were the three countries with the highest shares of children living in conflict zones with reports of child recruitment perpetrated by conflict actors. In Syria, 97% of children (6 million) were found to be at risk of recruitment, while in Yemen 89% of children (12 million) were at risk. Furthermore, the Middles East stands out as the only region that has seen a marked increase in children at risk of recruitment over the last decade, rising from 5% in 2009 to 33% in 2020. The Middle East has the highest share of any region in the world. The wars in Syria and Yemen and the increase in IS influence are listed as key factors for this increase.

PRIO's research team defines children at risk of recruitment as: "Children (under 18) who live within 50 km of one or more conflict events with at least one conflict actor reported to have recruited children in a particular year". The report is based on a new mapping of children at risk of being recruited or used in armed conflict conducted at PRIO, as well an update of the yearly estimation of children living in conflict zones.  

For more information, read Save the Children's full report, Stop the War on Children: A crisis of recruitment.

For a shorter overview, read the PRIO Conflict Trends Policy Brief 'Children at Risk of Being Recruited for Armed Conflict, 1990–2020'.

For a short update of the annual mapping of children affected by armed conflict, read the PRIO Conflict Trends Policy Brief 'Children Affected by Armed Conflict, 1990–2020'.