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UNICEF Global Annual Result Report Goal Area 3: Every child is protected from violence and exploitation

Child protection is the prevention of, and response to, exploitation, abuse, neglect, harmful practices and violence against children, including adolescents. The UNICEF approach in Goal Area 3 (child protection) is guided by human rights principles, norms and standards that are embedded in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three Optional Protocols. It seeks to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Despite advancements in child rights over the past two decades – notably, the rise in birth registration levels and declining rates of female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and child labour – significant acceleration is required to fully realize the rights of all children everywhere, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other global conventions, and to achieve the child protection-related SDGs. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has further intensified threats to children’s rights to protection, as services to manage those risks have been reduced and countries continue to feel the social and economic impact of the pandemic in 2021. School closures, disruptions in health, social, child protection and other services, and caregiver deaths caused by the pandemic have placed the most vulnerable at an increased risk of multiple rights violations, such as violence against children and women, child marriage, child labour, trafficking and family separation. Over the past two years, the number of children living in countries with complex emergencies has almost doubled, making the threat to rights to protection particularly acute for these children. The rapid escalation of violence in Ukraine in early 2022, which caused more than 1.5 million children to flee their homes in the first month of the conflict, underscores the critical need for sustained prevention and preparedness in humanitarian action. While countries in situations of fragility and those affected by conflict or climate-related disasters are some of the hardest hit, certain other contexts also accentuate threats to the protection of children, including poverty and loss of livelihoods, violence along migration routes and, increasingly, violence in the virtual world. Children also face discrimination and neglect due to disability, racism, xenophobia, sexual orientation and gender identity, and ethnicity.

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