In an opening address, Vaclav Kolaja, the Czech deputy foreign minister, told participants that while contemporary European youth have lived in relative peace, armed conflicts "remain part of everyday life in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Africa and Asia."
Armed conflicts are "leaving behind a growing number of victims, devastated countries and wounded families," he said, noting that the situation "is even worse for the millions of children growing in war or post-war countries."
These children "become the passive witnesses and victims of human cruelties, or accept an active role in armed conflicts, becoming child soldiers," he said. They also face rape and other forms of abuse.
Many times children in conflict areas will lack access to basic food, healthcare, shelter, and education, as well as access to a stable family life.
In his comments, Kolaja noted that if war is the only reality children experience growing up, "this naturally shapes the future of the world."
As millions of migrants including unaccompanied minors, continue to pour into Europe, greater concern is mounting not only for how to ensure them safe passage, but also for how to help them integrate into their new societies.
In their recent "A child is a child" report, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that the global number of migrant and refugee children who move alone has reached a record high. At least 300,000 unaccompanied minors and separated children were recorded in around 80 countries for 2015-2016, a massive jump from the 66,000 recorded for 2010-2011.
UNICEF Italy Team Leader for Refugee and Migrant Response, Gianfranco Rotigliano also spoke at the conference, telling participants that we are "losing generations" to armed conflicts.
"There is no sanctity anymore for hospitals," he said, noting that they have often become targets, with numerous children among the casualties.
He also lamented the fact that children from warring countries often stop going to school, saying: "when children do not go to school, they are out of society, or they become the last part of society. They will not participate in the process of development in their own country and in their own society."
Tomas Bocek, the Council of Europe's Special Representative of the Secretary General for Migration and Refugees, noted that children who grow up with war generally suffer from anger and often drift into criminal activities.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Children also simply disappear, many times because of poor organization in refugee camps, or out of fear of deportation, he said, stressing the need to focus on systemic problems "so children do not fall through the net."
Good and effective systems must be put into place, he said, noting that 1 in 3 asylum seekers in Europe is a child.
Because trafficking is such a huge risk, especially for unaccompanied minors, Bocek said the rapid identification of victims is essential so that they are accounted for before they disappear.
Stories from other panelists during the conference provided a shocking dose of reality in terms of what children go through.
One panelist recounted how in a visit to a warring country, she met a child who was waiting for the electricity to come back on after a bombing, not realizing that she had in fact lost her sight.
Other stories told of children who suffered from nosebleeds every time a bomb would go off, as well as the cases of children who, after coming home from school to see their homes destroyed and their family killed, wanted to commit suicide so they could be with their relatives.