War Child is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 assisting 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.
We help keep them safe, give them an education, and equip them with skills for the future.
We understand children’s needs, respect their rights, and put them at the centre of everything we do. Whether it’s helping Syrian children access education, rehabilitating ex-child soldiers in the Central African Republic or seeking justice for young people detained in Afghanistan.
We also work with children and young people to change systems and practices that affect them. We campaign on the root causes of conflict, and we demand that children are at the centre of all humanitarian responses.
War Child International is a network of three independent non-governmental organisations: War Child UK,War Child Holland and War Child Canada, each legally, operationally and financially independent but sharing a common brand identity and mission to support children and young people affected by armed conflict and war. They work with parents, caregivers, community members, NGOs, governments, corporates and other partners worldwide to ensure children have access to protection, education and psychosocial support. War Child is an inclusive, non-discriminatory organisation and has its work rooted in the United NationsConvention on the Rights of the Child.
War Child was established by film-makers Bill Leeson, David Wilson, and social entrepreneur and peace activist Willemijn Verloop in response to violence and ethnic cleansing they witnessed in war-torn former Yugoslavia in 1993, in the midst of the Bosnian War. The trio were deeply shocked by the children’s experiences of conflict but were inspired by the positive impact music therapy workshops run by Music Therapy professor Nigel Osborne in air raid shelters in Mostar and Sarajevo were having on the children’s well-being. In 1993, a first convoy with equipment and food to run a mobile bakery travelled to former Yugoslavia.
On leaving Bosnia, Leeson and Wilson went on to establish War Child UK in 1994 and Verloop returned to the Netherlands where she organised fundraising events in support of children in conflict zones, setting up Stichting War Child (known as War Child Holland) on 9 October 1995. The organisation grew rapidly and within three years was present in Sudan, Ingushetia and in Pakistan. In the first ten years, War Child Holland quickly established itself as a distinctive brand. The organization uses innovative marketing campaigns, a positive message and striking collaborations with the business community, the entertainment industry and ambassadors.
War Child Holland works on strengthening the resilience and well-being of children living with violence and armed conflict, acting in partnership with children and their communities to deliver interventions. Its specific focus is providing relevant mental health and psychosocial support, protection and education, as well as rapid assistance in emergency situations.
It is made up of three entities: War Child Netherlands, War Child Sweden (established 2016) and War Child Germany (established 2019). Its work is supported by 487 national and international staff as well as volunteers and advocates. It works in 18 countries. These include:
In the Middle East it provides children from both refugee and marginalised host communities with vital education and psychosocial support. In Africa, its work is designed to help children cope with the immediate and long-term consequences of conflict and build skills for a better future. In Latin America, it promotes peace-building efforts and support children to boost their wellbeing and resilience.
Today War Child Holland raises €45.4 million (2019), supported by 65 institutions and foundations, 87,500 structural donors and works with 61 partner organisations to meet the urgent needs of 267,754 children and adults (2019).
Because of the large numbers of children in war and conflict, War Child seeks to offer its methods to other organisations. It is currently building a global network to share expertise with partners around the world and give as many children as possible the right support. Can't Wait to Learn, one of its flagship projects, is being carried out in collaboration with partners around the world since 2015. This is an innovative educational programme in which children receive an education using tablets. With the help of educational games, children can catch up with school lessons and learn to read and count. In 2019, War Child received a prize from UNESCO for its education programme.
A number of high profile goodwill ambassadors and 'famous friends' support War Child Holland’s work. These include Dutch singer and superstar Marco Barsato (since 1998); Sierra Leonean-American ballet dancer and soloist with the Dutch National Ballet, Michaela DePrince (since 2016); striker for Arsenal (Women’s team) and the Netherlands women’s national football teamVivianne Miedema (since 2019); YouTuber, social media influencer and presenter Quinty Misiedjan (since 2016); Dutch DJ and record producer Martin Garrix (since 2017); Dutch Moroccan rapper and entertainer Ali B (since 2003); Dutch actor, screenwriter, director and presenter, Victor Reinier (since 2016) and Dutch indie pop band Chef'Special (since November 2020). Others include Tooske Ragas (since 2016); Britt Scholte (since 2016); Rens Polman (since 2016) and Niels Oosthoek (since 2016)
In 2015, War Child Holland launched its own research and development programme which critically evaluates War Child's methods, substantiate them scientifically and shares them with other organisations. In this way, War Child believes more children can be reached ("upscaling") with the specialist support they so desperately need.
War Child Holland's director is Tjipke Bergsma.
War Child Sweden
War Child Sweden is officially registered as a Swedish fundraising foundation - and in 2018 became a new member of the War Child family, implementing its own programmes. The year saw the launch of two programmes to meet the needs of refugee children in Sweden - ‘Together’ and ‘Naturkraft’ - with financial support from automotive giant Scania and leading sports organisation Friskis & Svettis. It has developed close links with key government and civil society actors such as the Swedish National Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
War Child Germany
War Child Germany is the latest member of the War Child Holland family, officially registered as a separate limited liability company in Germany (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, GmbH) in 2019. The office opens up access to significant new sources of funding, reaching even more people and thus helping even more children. It has an expert relationship with German government and civil society bodies.
Samantha Nutt founded War Child Canada after working as a young doctor with children facing the violence and despair of war. She saw how long it takes for communities to recover from conflict after the guns fall silent. For twenty years, the organisation has advocated for children and families in war-torn areas around the world.
In 2008 War Child helped realise the film which was an initiative of War Child Holland 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 February 18, 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 video game This War of Mine was released on November 14, 2014 by 11 bit studios in partnership with War Child as part of the "Real War is Not a Game" campaign. The goal of the campaign is to halt the perpetuation of war crimes, such as hostage taking or other breaches of the Geneva Conventions, in video games. On March 9, 2015, downloadable content for the game was released on Steam, titled "War Child Charity DLC", the proceeds of which were donated to War Child. A bundle of 12 games called HELP: THE GAME, also available on Steam, donates all of its proceeds to War Child as well. Released on July 28, 2016, this bundle is the result of various well-known game developers taking part in a 6-day-long game jam.Creative Assembly said it would donate 25 percent of pre-order profit from Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia sales on Steam.
In 2018 Lady Amelia Windsor donated twenty percent of the proceeds from her shoe line collaboration with Penelope Chilvers to War Child UK.
Starting off with mobile bakeries from the UK and with both rebuilding and music programmes from Holland, War Child UK 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 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 traumas of war. From 1995, the War Child Diabetic Programme restored the diabetic support system in Bosnia; and until 1998 War Child UK remained one of the main suppliers of diabetic medicines throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
War Child UK Celebrity Patrons
War Child has historically been supported and endorsed by numerous influential patrons. However, it lost support from Luciano Pavarotti, Brian Eno, and three other celebrity patrons, along with 11 trustees, after it was discovered that in 1995 co-founder Bill Leeson took a bribe from contractors building a music centre in Bosnia. In 2001 when the story broke, War Child said that any financial mismanagement in the charity occurred "years ago" and they are "dealing properly with these historical charges". The UK Charity watchdog, the Charity Commission for England and Wales stated that they had been involved with the trustees regarding the matter since 1998. Bill Leeson is now a director at GardenAfrica, a charity he co-founded in 2002.
War Child Australia
War Child Australia was established in July 2002. Since that time, it has been committed to providing aid to young victims of war all around the world. Historically, funds have been primarily obtained through royalties paid from publications produced by War Child including the anthologies ‘Big Night Out’, ‘Girls' Night In’ (Volumes 1-3) and ‘Kids Night In’ (Volumes 1 and 2). These publications have had the dual purpose of raising funds to be used in field work and raising public awareness of the plight of children in war zones.
BUFFALO, NY 14202-2107 | Tax-exempt since July 2004
Classification (NTEE) Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (International, Foreign Affairs and National Security)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.