Women and children bear substantial morbidity and mortality as a result of armed conflicts. This Series paper focuses on the direct (due to violence) and indirect health effects of armed conflict on women and children (including adolescents) worldwide. We estimate that nearly 36 million children and 16 million women were displaced in 2017, on the basis of international databases of refugees and internally displaced populations. From geospatial analyses we estimate that the number of non-displaced women and children living dangerously close to armed conflict (within 50 km) increased from 185 million women and 250 million children in 2000, to 265 million women and 368 million children in 2017. Women's and children's mortality risk from non-violent causes increases substantially in response to nearby conflict, with more intense and more chronic conflicts leading to greater mortality increases. More than 10 million deaths in children younger than 5 years can be attributed to conflict between 1995 and 2015 globally. Women of reproductive ages living near high intensity conflicts have three times higher mortality than do women in peaceful settings. Current research provides fragmentary evidence about how armed conflict indirectly affects the survival chances of women and children through malnutrition, physical injuries, infectious diseases, poor mental health, and poor sexual and reproductive health, but major systematic evidence is sparse, hampering the design and implementation of essential interventions for mitigating the harms of armed conflicts.
The Lancet, Volume 397, 6 February 2021,