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Syrian crisis

Sustaining the commitment to preventing a lost generation of Syrian children

Partners in the No Lost Generation initiative met in New York on 24 September, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

 

By Alexandra Brunais

Despite the continuing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and in the surrounding region, an additional 770,000 Syrian children affected by the crisis benefitted from some form of education over the last year, and almost 660,000 received psychological support.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 24 September 2014 – The partners of the No Lost Generation initiative met today on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to take stock of progress made since the initiative launched in October 2013 to help safeguard the future of a generation of children affected by the Syrian crisis, and to endorse the next phase of its strategy.

Continued conflict has led to further population displacements and has worsened living conditions for many families, but governments, communities hosting refugees and other partners have made significant progress in reaching more children with education and protection support and services:

• By the middle of 2014, around 2 million children inside Syria had received some kind of education;

• Over the past year, the number of Syrian children attending school in host countries has grown from nearly 170,000 to around 500,000;

• So far this year, more than 600,000 children in Syria and in host countries have been provided psychological support;

• In Lebanon, 200,000 caregivers were trained to promote a nurturing environment and prevent child maltreatment.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1665/Markisz
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake speaks at the opening session of the No Lost Generation Initiative ‘One year on’ high-level meeting at UNICEF House in New York.

Three and a half years into the conflict, more than 3 million Syrian refugees are dispersed across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, and another 6.5 million people are displaced within Syria. More than half of these refugees are children. Altogether, 6.5 million children are affected by the crisis.

The No Lost Generation Initiative, made up of international organizations, NGOs and governments, recognizes that humanitarian support such as shelter and medical assistance is essential, but preparing an entire generation of Syrian children to rebuild and reconcile their nation requires an even greater commitment.

The initiative works in the Syrian Arab Republic and in countries hosting Syrian refugees to expand access to learning and skills; to provide a protective environment, including support to overcome psychological distress and trauma; and to broaden opportunities for children and adolescents through the teaching of life skills and peace-building approaches.

Creating opportunities

Young people aged 15 to 24 are the largest demographic group among Syrian refugees, and they face numerous obstacles to accessing education. As a result, many are out of school, and many express insecurity, lack of hope, sadness and anxiety about their future. Anger and frustration can leave them especially susceptible to the lure of armed groups. Creating opportunities for young people to avoid being drawn into violence and conflict is therefore critical.
A rise in child labour among Syrian refugee children, particularly boys, and in rates of child marriage have also been observed in all host countries.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1666/Markisz
Minister of Education of Lebanon Elias Bou Saab speaks at the education session of the No Lost Generation Initiative ‘One year on’ meeting at UNICEF House. United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education (and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) Gordon Brown is at left.

“Helping the children of Syria is investing in the future of Syria, as today’s children are tomorrow’s doctors, teachers, lawyers and leaders. Investing in this generation is helping them acquire the skills and knowledge they will need to rebuild their communities when peace returns,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We need to heal their hearts and minds. And there is so much more to be done.”

To respond to the evolving needs of the millions of children affected by the conflict, the No Lost Generation initiative plans to keep building on current programs while intensifying its focus on strengthening national institutions and public services in the Syrian Arab Republic and host countries; building resilience among affected communities; investing in education systems to help host countries absorb the overwhelming number of new students, with a special focus on education strategies for the 15-24 age group; bolstering child protection services; strengthening collection of protection and education data; and reforming policies that prevent children from completing their education in host countries.

The initiative welcomed $347 in new funding commitments by the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and other partners at today’s meeting, which will help reduce the $585 million gap the initiative faced to date to fulfill its $885 million appeal. This new funding will allow significantly greater investments in education and protection to safeguard the future of millions of children affected by the Syrian conflict.


 

 

UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis

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