Around the world, millions of children are growing up in conflict. Caught in the crossfires of war, these children and young people are uniquely vulnerable.
This International Poetry Day, 21 March, children and young people living through conflict are sharing the harsh reality of a childhood defined by war through their Poems for Peace. Their powerful words must serve as a wake-up call, spurring global action to achieve peace.
Read these poems by boys and girls in Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Ukraine, Somalia and Yemen, and share yours. You can submit your call to achieve global peace and offer a beacon of hope for children and young people around the world. Submit your poem through our website or post it on your social media channels using the hashtags #PoemsForPeace and #WorldPoetryDay.
But it keeps going from day to day.
And we forgot to smile and can’t pretend,
We are surrounded by despair
And we keep waiting for someone to care.
The towns and villages are ruined at their core,
As are our hearts and souls.
We forget that every door
Has its own unique lock.
We still believe in a happy future,
Where we will live in harmony and peace.
We’ll not forget those who have fallen,
That’s why we need to hurry up.
My room - is a jail too,
Messenger is my friend
And other social networks.
My enemy is everyone outside
And the air they breathe out.
I wasn’t ready
For this fight alone.
I breathe in slowly
And count each passing breath.
My body is barren
But my soul hurts.
but it happened to be real.
The torture of the war
And overwhelming fear.
I want it all to go away
Diffuse in shining sun
And troubles blown from our day
By friendly clouds, so far
I want people out of cellars
Living to the full
Not afraid of their jailers
I want to throw away all the pieces
From the puzzle of this cruel war
So children don’t play with them
I want everyone to be happy and smile!
I believe in a happy Ukraine
And the new life beginning today!
I believe we can forget about war
It will be swept away from the shore.
Oh God, there is so much pain, very little to cheer
My home is set alight and burning like the autumn leaves
The poplar trees burnt, the red flowers burnt, it's only grief.
Oh God, there is so much pain, very little to cheer
The outcome of war is tragic, sad and full of dreadful probabilities
Many have lost their lives, many wounded and many left with disabilities
Oh God, there is so much pain, very little to cheer.
A heart full of memories of a dead father!
A silence that is bursting with agonizing screams
So quiet and yet devastated with shattered dreams
Where are you? Oh, that my heart yearns for!
Oh, lost springs, oh my beloved country at peace that I pray for
Your voice is the remedy of so many souls
Of a painful mother, of a crying child and countless more
You are the peaceful soul.
Everyone will plant beautiful pine and palm trees
From these sprawling deserts we will make gardens again
We will return to our lands and sow green when peace comes
Once again, every child in my country will have a pen in their hand
We will take up pens and books, and become forgivers
We are tired of this war, we search for peace
We will gather together as brothers.
Through my racing heart
I am the pen that carries the desire to touch each heart,
And with my faith light it up with joy.
To live in solidarity with others in this world
I am the thirsty soul of a world without divisions
A world willing to learn and where each failure is synonymous with courage
I refuse to give in to any despair.
I wanted to become a doctor, to save lives and spread happiness
To be beside my cherished parents;
Under their protection where I can dream without limits.
But at twelve, I killed in Monrovia,
Stole in Boauke, burnt down Rwanda and pillaged Kabul
And many other horrible things
At twelve years, I was called the wicked child.
From here, peace emerges
From the laugh of every child
From the eyes of every wounded
From the fruit of every tree
From the breeze of every wind
Who among us does not love peace?!
Who does not want to see peace all over the land and skies?
I have always believed in peace
Until I saw something on TV,
Something not expected at all.
I saw on the screen war and destruction
I saw children sleeping in tents
They lost the embrace and protection of their parents
I saw children who are as skinny as ghosts
I saw schools and parks empty of children.
I cried from what I saw and went to the source of love, my father
I asked him: Where did peace go?
Where are schools and parks?
Where is medicine and where is food?
Come with me to rip off the wishes
Let’s just babble
In the lanes, as if we hadn’t grown old.
Wake up the night and provoke the sleeper
Why haven’t we slept since they said:
Our morning is not quite a morning.
My laughter races the clouds
I engrave flowers into the land,
So peace prevails.
I am the child of the light,
I yearn for the sun,
Do not break my longing
I fear the darkness.
And a national symbol
They are a ray of light
And the future of the whole country
A house without foundation
And with no entry point (door)
My point is
They can create peace
And can shape the future
Our beautiful land
They can illuminate it
They are Immutable flowers
That can benefit the people
✍️ Want to read more poems written by young people? Check out these words on youth activism, anti-discrimination and the world young people want to build:
Masked Not Muted: young poets reimagine their world
Young poets for racial equality