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