In emergencies, girls and boys face increased risk to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The way in which humanitarian aid is delivered can further increase these risks. Children may be exposed to harm during the chaos of a distribution or at water points or experience abuse in cramped evacuation centers. Sometimes harm is caused directly due to humanitarian workers’ actions or non-actions. Many threats to the safety and well being of children can be mitigated or even eradicated through timely and sensitive provision of humanitarian aid across all sectors. All humanitarian actors have an important contribution to make to the protection and recovery of children.
To mainstream child protection means to ensure child protection considerations inform all aspects of humanitarian action. It also minimizes the risks of children being violated by programmes designed without proper consideration for children’s safety or wellbeing. Mainstreaming child protection is an essential part of compliance with the ‘do no harm’ principle that applies to all humanitarian action. Going beyond mainstreaming, integrated programming allows for actions between two or more sectors to work together towards a common programme objective, based on an assessment of needs. Where integrated child protection programming is not possible, child protection mainstreaming is essential.
The responsibility for encouraging and supporting child protection mainstreaming efforts must be shared by all humanitarian actors – it cannot be done by child protection actors alone. Indeed, the most persuasive arguments are often made by those in other sectors who have seen the critical value of collaborating with child protection actors to ensure the safety of children in their responses.