Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore ahead of the 2020 Brussels video conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region

30 June 2020
On 3 March 2020 in the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore (second from right) speaks with students Tal-Amara school in southern rural Idlib. The school is the only elementary school in Tal-Amara village. With support from UNICEF, the school is providing 130 children with formal education and an accelerated learning programme (Curriculum B) for children who have missed out on years of education. The school is also part of the World Food Programme's School Feeding Programme in t
UNICEF/UNI308327/Sanadiki
On 3 March 2020 in the Syrian Arab Republic, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore (second from right) speaks with students Tal-Amara school in southern rural Idlib. The school is the only elementary school in Tal-Amara village. With support from UNICEF, the school is providing 130 children with formal education and an accelerated learning programme (Curriculum B) for children who have missed out on years of education. The school is also part of the World Food Programme's School Feeding Programme in the Sinjar subdistrict.

NEW YORK/BRUSSELS. 30 June 2020 - "Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

"Every year at this conference, we highlight how Syrian children continue to bear the brunt of the crisis engulfing their country…

"We repeat our calls for a peaceful solution…

"And we describe our hopes for a brighter future for these children.

"Sadly, this year is like the others that came before.  

"The daily lives of Syria’s children continue to be grim.  

"Nearly 6 million Syrian children were born into the crisis in the last nine years.

"They know nothing but war and displacement.

"And nearly 8 million children need critical humanitarian assistance.

"One urgent need is education. 

"Syrian children -- whether IN Syria or in neighbouring countries -- face severe challenges to their learning.

"Over one-third are not getting an education because of violence…

"A lack of safe learning spaces and schools…

"Or because they need to work to support their families.

"Neighbouring countries have opened their doors to Syrian families for nearly a decade, and integrated Syrian children into their systems.

"But these systems are stretched – for all children.

"And now, with COVID-19, schools are closed.

"Only the lucky few can benefit from remote learning.

"Even then, they may contend with poor quality education.

"The longer children are out of school, the less likely they are to go back once schools re-open – especially adolescents.  

"UNICEF believes that all children need education, knowledge and skills.

"Not only to get a job and build a future.

"But to be productive members of society.

"And hopefully, shape a better, more peaceful world.

"As a global community, we need to scale-up our support for blended learning opportunities –

"Both online and in-person.

"For every child.

"And we need to expand social protections like cash-transfers, to help Syrian families afford to send their children to school – and keep them there -- rather than work.

"Children belong in classrooms, not the workplace.

"The children of Syria need your help.

"Your generosity to date has been lifesaving.

"As we gather more funding to support these young lives, let’s make sure we’re also supporting their minds, and their futures.

"Their education.

"Finally, let’s echo the call of the Syrian people.

"To end this war.

"To start mending the wounds that have torn this country apart for nearly a decade.

"And to give every child every chance to build a better, more peaceful future.

"For themselves. For Syria. For the region. And for the world."

Media contacts

Joe English
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692

Multimedia content

Children wash hands in the Maarat Misrin camp north of Idlib, Syrian Arab Republic
Children wash hands in the Maarat Misrin camp north of Idlib, Syrian Arab Republic. At camps such as this, with large numbers of people using the same facilities and irregular cleaning and maintenance of the waterpoints, the arrival of a threat like the 2019 novel coronavirus could pose severe health risks to the community.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook