Newsbrief, TerraViva United Nations

UN Seeks $ 750 Million to Educate Syrian Refugee Children

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 2016 (IPS) - The United Nations has made an urgent appeal for $750 million in funds to provide education to about one million Syrian refugee children in Jordan Lebanon and Turkey.

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, announced Wednesday that $500 million has already been pledged, including a $200 million loan from the World Bank, leaving a balance of $250 million still to be secured in the coming weeks.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the former British Prime Minister said: “Today the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945 demands the boldest of responses from the broadest coalition of – public, private and voluntary funding.”

He told world leaders gathering at the annual meeting that while there are now 60 million displaced persons around the world and 20 million refugees, Syria is at the epicentre with the fastest growing problem.

Of the four million Syrian refugees, almost 2 million are children—and these numbers are expected to increase in 2016. Currently, only 48 percent of school-age refugee children have access to education. As a result, child labor and child marriage rates have increased among refugees.

Brown aims to secure an additional $250 million at the fourth International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, scheduled to take place in London on February 4.

He noted the success of Lebanon’s double-shift schools which allows Lebanese children to learn in the mornings and Syrians in the afternoons. Under this system, the average cost of providing a school place is $10 per child per week.

Turkey and Jordan already plan to expand their double-shift schools and double its school places for refugees. “Without action now, these young Syrians will become a lost generation,” Brown remarked.

Meanwhile, over 120 humanitarian organisations and UN agencies have also released a joint appeal to end the conflict, which is approaching its sixth year, by reaching a ceasefire agreement.

“More than ever before, the world needs to hear a collective public voice calling for an end to this outrage,” said a joint statement by several organisations including UNICEF, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Oxfam.

In addition to the millions of refugees, over 13 million are displaced within the country and many are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Aid convoys carrying food supplies were only recently granted access in January to the besieged Syrian city of Madaya where 42,000 people reside. The last aid distribution was on October 2015.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) stated that at least 28 people, including six infants under the age of one, have died from hunger-related causes in Madaya.

Even since the latest aid distribution, the UN has reported that five people have died of starvation due to lack of availability and affordability of essential foods.

“In the name of our shared humanity, for the sake of the millions of innocents who have already suffered so much, and for the millions more whose lives and futures hang in the balance, we call for action now,” the organisations appealed.


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