Experts Address Urban Violence at War Child Event

The first War Child Peace Experts Session was held in Amsterdam this week. The event saw experts from the humanitarian sector address the rise of urban violence - as well as young people who have directly experienced its effects. Find out more about the discussions - and why new solutions and partnerships are urgently needed to address the issues surrounding urban violence

War Child marked this week’s International Day of Peace with a special event - our first Peace Experts Session. The event - held in the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam - saw representatives from academia, government, NGO's and the private sector gather to discuss the issue of urban violence - and potential solutions to address its challenges.

The event was moderated by NOS News correspondent Sander van Hoorn and began with an address from War Child’s managing director Tjipke Bergsma, who argued that urban violence disproportionately affects children and youth around the world - and should as a result be of great concern to War Child.

The second session explored issues surrounding the delivery of psychosocial support for children affected by conflict. Dr Mark Jordans, Director of Research and Development at War Child, emphasised the importance of interventions that not only support children but also engage with the wider community.


Dr Jordans was joined at the podium by Khalid Barkat - who escaped the ongoing conflict in Iraq to build a new life in the Netherlands. Khalid (above with Dr Jordans) shared his experiences of both his journey to safety and his current role as a facilitator in War Child’s TeamUp programme - where he supports conflict-affected children to cope with their experiences. 

Root causes of urban violence 

Social anthropologist Elena Butti later took to the podium to explore the root causes of urban violence. Through her field research in the Colombian city of Medellin, she found that a major reason for children to join violent gangs is a feeling of marginalisation. Butti argued for inclusion initiatives to form a core part of humanitarian interventions in urban centres.  

Social entrepreneur Chris Underhill MBE brought the event to a close with an examination of how NGOs and organisations from other sectors can meet the challenges posed by urban violence.

Underhill praised War Child for its approach of working with local partner organisations inside its countries of operation - and identified the link between marginalisation and mental illness as a key challenge to be addressed.


Dr Jordans responded with the observation that War Child already addresses marginalisation in its programmes and is certainly able to adapt its current interventions to contexts of urban violence.

New partnerships needed

Tjipke Bergsma closed the event with a call on other sector organisations to join War Child in developing new approaches to respond to the needs of children affected by urban violence.

Want to collaborate with us? If you or your organisation would like to contribute to our efforts to address the issues arising from urban violence, we are ready to hear from you.

Photos (C) Eelkje Colmjon