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Civilians are a common element of the Command & Conquer franchise. They usually serve no other purpose other than to provide ambiance to the environment, although in some cases, they play a small role in some missions and in Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, they can be mind controlled to act as a distraction. Most of the time, civilians will run away in terror when a battle occurs nearby, and may occasionally get killed, whether accidentally or deliberately. In Command & Conquer: Generals, civilians were relegated to being a mere background prop, and cannot be selected (except GLA mission 2); they also do not show a lifebar, though they are still susceptible to damage. This was continued in Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Civilians do not appear in Red Alert 3, or in any game after. Possibly due to moral issues involving innocents in war.
They also do not show up in Generals Zero Hour, with the exception of a single man in the final GLA mission. Yet they appear in Generals vanilla. However, in the final USA mission of Zero Hour, the USA EVA at one point in her briefing states, "Try to minimize civilian casualties". This piece of audio also appears at other points in the game, suggesting that they originally intended to use Civilians in the maps. Also, one of the skirmish maps from Generals vanilla that had Civilian units in it, was ported over to Zero Hour, but with the complete removal of said civilians.
No children appear in any game. Again possibly having to do with moral reasons, with children in video games.