Only scaled-up donor support can spare a generation the impact of Syrian conflict
2 February 2016 - The future of a generation of Syrian children and youth is in jeopardy unless donors meeting in London this week prioritise the funding needed to get them back to school, say aid agencies leading the response to the brutal conflict ravaging the country.
Nearly five years into the crisis, around 4 million Syrian and host community children and youth aged 5-17 years are in need of education assistance. These include 2.1 million out of school Syrian children inside Syria and 0.7 million out-of-school Syrian children in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
Last year, the combined efforts of governments and international partners helped more than one million children and youth inside Syria benefit from formal or non-formal learning opportunities. But with no political solution in sight to one of the most brutal conflicts the world has seen in decades, the number of children missing out on an education continues to climb.
The region’s education crisis will be in the spotlight at a major conference in London on Thursday, co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, and the United Nations. Leaders from more than 30 countries are expected to attend the meeting, with the aim of raising new funding to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected by the crisis.
Ahead of the meeting, aid groups and UN agencies making up the “No Lost Generation Initiative” are calling for $1.4 billion to help around four million children and youth inside Syria and in neighbouring countries access formal and non-formal education opportunities.
“The scale of the crisis for children is growing all the time, which is why there are now such fears that Syria is losing a whole generation of its youth”, said Dr Peter Salama, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa for Unicef, the agency which coordinates the Initiative.
“As a result of all the work being done by partners and donors, education and protection for children are now being prioritized. But what we must see in London is the step-change necessary to bring all children back to learning; to protect those who are at risk of dropping out; expand safe and inclusive learning environments; recruit and train more teachers; improve the quality of education, and support the development of technical, vocational and life skills opportunities for youth.”
Governments at the London meeting will also be urged to put more pressure on parties to the Syria conflict– and those who support them -- to end attacks on schools and other places of learning, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.
In Syria, the killing, abduction and arrest of students and teachers has become commonplace. So have arbitrary attacks on schools. About one in four schools cannot be used because they have been damaged, destroyed or are being used as shelters for the internally displaced or for military purposes.
Notes for editors:
The No Lost Generation Initiative was set up in 2013 to expand learning opportunities and to provide a protective environment for children and young people in Syria and neighbouring countries. By the end of 2015:
• 1.2 million children and youth inside Syria benefitted from improved formal and non- formal learning opportunities; this included 51,000 Palestine refugee from Syria enrolled in 305 U.N.R.W.A schools in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan;
• Children and youth in Syria and the region can also now access MoE/UN-developed self-learning materials, available in hard copy;
• 650,788 children (3-17) in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey received school supplies or support through cash grants;
• More than 600,000 children and youth received care to deal with distress caused by the violence;
• 575,000 children and youth have benefited from remedial classes and alternative learning;
• 10,000 youth were enrolled in vocational training;
NLG partners are International Medical Corps, Intersos, Save the Children, World Vision, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Refugee Council; UK AID, the European Union, US AID, US State Department, Canada; OCHA, UNHCR, Unicef, UNRWA, UN Women, WFP
For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk