Newsbrief, TerraViva United Nations

New Funds for Syrian Refugees, But More Needed

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12 2016 (IPS) - “This is a ray of hope for children, the majority of whom have not had the chance of education since they left Syria,” UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said while announcing new funding pledges towards a plan to provide education for Syrian refugee children.

The humanitarian plan, proposed in the UN Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2016-2017, aims to educate one million Syrian refugee children in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey by the end of 2016. Donors from the European Union and the Gulf region have recently provided more than 250 million dollars to achieving this goal.

Currently, there are over 1.3 million Syrian refugee boys and girls in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Of this population, only 48 percent of school-age children have access to education.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said the five-year-old Syrian civil war has reversed more than a decade of progress in children’s education. And due to the lack of opportunities, child labor and child marriage rates have also increased among refugees.

According to the UN, one in every three refugee children work in the black market. ‘Girls Not Brides’, an organisation working to end child marriages, has also found that child marriage rates among Syrian refugee girls have doubled — from 12 percent to 26 percent.

“Unless we can provide chances for children, every day new families will decide the only hope for their children’s future is to leave for Europe,” said Brown, a former British Prime Minister.
The UN has appealed for about $750 million dollars to provide education to at least one million refugee children in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

As part of the No Lost Generation campaign, the initiative builds on a successful project in Lebanon where over 200,000 refugees have attended double-shift schools.

The cost-effective double-shift system allows Lebanese children to learn in the mornings, opening up the same classrooms for refugees in the afternoons.

Brown added that this is part of a wider plan to create a humanitarian platform for education in emergencies. “If we can create a platform, then some of these children who have been denied schooling for five years of the civil war and some children who would never go through a classroom door in the period in which they are refugees and in exile, will get new chances that they would never have had before,” he stated.

With the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in London, Brown aims to raise the additional $500 million in the coming weeks.

According to UNHCR, children below the age of 18 make up 51 percent of all refugees worldwide. However, humanitarian funding for education in emergencies has been insufficient. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) reported that in 2014, education received only 2 percent of humanitarian aid.

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