Military Wiki
War Child
Founder(s) Bill Leeson
David Wilson
Type NGO
Location Linton House, 39-51 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1RT

War Child is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 which provides assistance to children in areas experiencing conflict and the aftermath of conflict. The establishment of War Child UK was soon followed by organisations in Canada and the Netherlands.

War Child Netherlands[]

War Child Netherlands (or 'War Child Holland' in the field), was founded in 1994 by Willemijn Verloop as a reaction to the war in Bosnia. Nowadays War Child Holland is the largest War Child Office with a yearly expenditure of 12,6 million Euros (2010),[1] which has specialised in helping the psychosocial needs of children who have suffered from war and/or conflict situations, by means of a special methodology by using creative arts.[2] The organisation grew from a one-man office in 1994, to 40 employees in the Netherlands and 600 abroad in 2007.[3] Together they reach a total of 1.8 million children and 1.7 million adults a year in 11 countries affected by armed conflict.[4]

War Child’s goal is:

  • The establishment and implementation of psychosocial programmes in which creative and sports activities are used to reinforce the psychological and social development and the welfare of the children;
  • The establishment and implementation of creative and sports programmes that are aimed at uniting children who have been driven apart because of war, in order to contribute to a peaceful society;
  • The creation of public awareness of the problems of children in (former) war zones and the generation of support for these children.

Through music, creative, and sports activities children learn to express their emotions. This helps them to deal with war experiences and stimulates their personal development and respect for one another. By learning to play again children are able to escape the difficulties of their daily lives for a while. In 2005 War Child Netherlands introduced a new measurement system for the programmes in 14 countries. In the first results it was shown that the projects reach more than 650,000 children[5] worldwide.

War Child Netherlands currently works in Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel/the Palestinian territories, Lebanon. Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka. Sudan, and Uganda. It also has special projects for refugees in the Netherlands. Previous projects have included Chechnya/Ingushetia, Georgia, and Kosovo.

War Child UK[]

War Child UK exists to:

  • support and rehabilitate child victims of war.
  • deal with the lasting consequences of conflict on children.

War Child UK does this by:

  • working with local communities, their organisations and local authorities in both conflict and post-conflict areas to support children and the people they depend upon.
  • ensuring sustainable security for children.
  • promoting child supportive livelihood opportunities.
  • addressing the developmental needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised children.

War Child UK currently works in Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Uganda

War Child Canada[]

Founded by Eric Hoskins, a medical doctor and in collaboration with local partners, War Child Canada works to provide humanitarian assistance and long-term rehabilitative support for children and youth. War Child Canada's international projects are concerned with the promotion and protection of children’s rights, improving access to education, strengthening livelihoods and building capacity throughout war-affected communities around the world.

A component of War Child Canada’s overseas programming is the development of partnerships with local communities and organisations. The charity has active partnerships in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Uganda, Darfur, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.

History of War Child[]

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The founders[]

War Child was founded in 1993 by British filmmakers Bill Leeson and David Wilson, when they returned from filming in the war in former Yugoslavia. In 1993 the first War Child convoy with equipment, and food to run a mobile bakery travelled to former Yugoslavia. War Child Netherlands was founded shortly after in 1994 by Willemijn Verloop, when she met Music Therapy professor Nigel Osborne during the war in Bosnia; War Child Holland programmes have been concerned with provision of psychosocial aid. War Child Canada was founded in 1998 by Samantha Nutt and Eric Hoskins.

Stars, media and music[]

During the war in the Balkan War Child worked together with the media, music and entertainment industries to raise funds and public awareness of the daily struggle for survival facing children in war zones. Famous artists like Brian Eno, David Bowie, Bono, Luciano Pavarotti, and Tom Stoppard backed the War Child cause at the start-up of the organization. With exotic events like Little Pieces from Big Stars, Pagan Fun Wear and Milestones were ground-breaking charity fundraising events. And in 1995 the record-breaking release of The Help Album made it possible for War Child to start major projects in the former Yugoslavia. Since 1993 many other famous artists like Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Oasis, Radiohead, Sum 41, U2, Anton Corbijn, Eric Clapton, Marco Borsato, Bob Geldof, Iggy Pop, Avril Lavigne, Keane, and many others have joined the War Child cause.

In 2005, to mark the 10th anniversary of The Help Album, War Child UK launched Help!: A Day in the Life. In addition to Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers, the new album features artists such as Coldplay, Bloc Party, Gorillaz, Elbow, Feeder, and Kaiser Chiefs, along with Keane who are current patrons of War Child UK. Another compilation album, Heroes, was released in February 2009.

In 2008 War Child helped realize the film The Silent Army which was an initiative of War Child ambassador Marco Borsato. The film attracted a lot of attention in the Netherlands and was selected for the 'Un Certain Regard' section of the Cannes film festival in 2009.

On the 18th of February 2013, English alternative rock band Muse performed live, to a sold out crowd, at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in honour of War Child's 20th year of existence. The concert was filmed and can be viewed on YouTube.

The video game This War of Mine was released on the 14th of November 2014 by 11 bit studios in partnership with War Child as part of the "Real War is Not a Game" campaign,[6] the goal of the campaign is to halt the perpetuation of war crimes in games such as hostage taking or other breaches of the Geneva Conventions.[7]

War Child programmes[]

Starting off with mobile bakeries from the UK and with both rebuilding and music programmes from Holland, War Child projects expanded rapidly during the years. War Child expanded programmes within the Balkan to other countries and regions, like Kosovo. In 1995 War Child UK was undertaking the establishment of a very special Children's Music Centre in Mostar, later to be called The Pavarotti Music Centre. War Child Holland actively supporting the Music Therapy Programme in Bosnia, a direction they would later specialise in; using creative and psychosocial means to heal trauma's of war. From 1995 the War Child Diabetic Programme restored the diabetic support system in Bosnia; and until 1998 War Child remained one of the main suppliers of diabetic medicines throughout Bosnia Hercegovina.


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