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Pierrette Vu Thi on UNICEF, UNHCR appeal for education of Iraqi children in host countries

GENEVA, 27 July 2007 - Over the past year and a half, we have the seen the conflict in Iraq spill over its borders, pushing families in distress to neighbouring countries like Syria and Jordan. In these situations, children often suffer the most.

They have lost a lot – and risk losing any semblance of a normal life. Some have lost a parent. They have lost their place in their communities, their friends and their social environment. With school beginning soon, many are uncertain that they will attend classes.

Today, with UNHCR, UNICEF is appealing for international support to assist the children displaced by the Iraqi conflict, especially focusing on education. 

As part of this joint appeal, UNICEF will contribute to activities such as:
• Training of teachers and school staff,
• The provision of school supplies and learning materials,
• Rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities in selected schools,
• Initiatives to support the integration of school drop outs, life skills training and recreational activities for adolescents.

There is a sense of urgency in this appeal, as these children must be ready to go to school in the next month. Iraqi children in Syria and Jordan need to return to school because it is their right and because schools provide them with a safe and protective environment.

A good school environment gives children in difficult circumstances – such as those who have fled Iraq – a daily routine, giving them a sense of normalcy and security. Without daily school, these children will have nothing to do, becoming vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and robbing them of a future.

Iraqi children in Syria and Jordan today face mounting obstacles to schooling. Overcrowding is preventing children from attending school. Lack of financial resources means families cannot afford school fees, uniforms and supplies. Poverty means many children are working to support their family. Emotional distress and concerns about resident status force many families to keep their children at home.

The children of Iraq have waited long enough. Action must be taken now so that children are ready to go to school when classes begin.




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