It is increasingly recognised that in emergency programming efforts adolescents need to be viewed as a distinct group with distinct vulnerabilities and also great potential for contributing to the emergency response. Adolescents tend either to be ignored as a target group during times of emergencies or to be conceptualised as passive victims or active security threats. Caught between the perceptions that infants are the most vulnerable and adults the most capable, there can be a tendency to overlook the needs of the adolescents. This has led to a failure to focus on adolescents in disaster preparedness or recovery activity. In addition, programming eff orts have been hampered by the lack of a strong theoretical base for understanding the needs of adolescents in emergencies and a sparse evidence base about ‘what works’. Examining these issues, this background paper also presents several recommendations in considering adolescents in emergencies in areas of gender, education and livelihood, mental and psycho-social health, physical and reproductive health, participation and protection.