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US$1 billion investment needed to prevent a lost generation

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Global champions and US$1 billion investment needed to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children

UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, World Vision and other partners today called for governments, aid agencies and members of the public to become champions for the children of Syria and support the “No Lost Generation” strategy, which aims to provide those affected by the conflict with the chance to shape a more stable and secure future.

Through the US$1 billion strategy, the organizations are focusing donor and public support on critical education and protection programmes to lift Syrian children out of misery, isolation and trauma. The strategy is being publically unveiled one week ahead of a major donor conference in Kuwait for humanitarian aid for Syria.

A major public engagement campaign under the hashtag #childrenofsyria is also being launched, using social media to enlist supporters and public contributors.

“As the conflict approaches another bitter anniversary, we cannot sit and watch a generation disappear in front of us,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

“Now is the time for champions for the children of Syria, now is the time for the world to step up and provide these children with fresh hope and confidence for their future.”

“If we fail these children now, an entire region will lose a generation of potential leaders, teachers engineers, doctors and – above all- peacemakers, upon whom the hope for a stable, healthy and prosperous society depends.”

For nearly three years, Syria’s children have been the most vulnerable of all victims of the conflict, say the four organizations, seeing their families and loved ones killed, their schools destroyed and their hopes eroded. Too many have been wounded either physically, psychologically or both. Children have also become vulnerable to the worst types of exploitation including child labour, recruitment into armed groups and forces, early marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.

Ellen Voller, Fundraising Director at UNICEF NZ, said “The Syria crisis has destroyed countless lives, with 5.5 million children affected across the region. Until there is a peaceful resolution children’s lives are in chaos, but there is much we can do to show they are not forgotten and to alleviate their suffering.

“The ’No Lost Generation’ campaign is a chance for New Zealanders to champion the children of Syria by donating and also spreading the word through social media. Many have already donated generously and we thank everyone for their incredible support. Donations can be made at: www.unicef.org.nz/syria ”

Over one million Syrian refugees are children, of which more than 425,000 are under the age of five. The vast majority of these refugees have fled either to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. Among them, nearly 8,000 children have been identified as being separated from their families. The situation for the over three million displaced children inside Syria is even more dire.

UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision and other partners across the region will channel the $1 billion into programmes that, in partnership with governments and local communities, deliver safe education, protection from exploitation, abuse and violence, psychological care and support and offer more opportunities for social cohesion and stability in an already volatile region. These programmes include strengthening national and community-based child protection systems.

The initiative will also scale up access to quality education, through formal and non-formal approaches, introducing accelerated curricula for children who have been out of school, vocational training, training of teachers and incentive programmes, creating safe environments that further reduce children’s exposure to further risks.

Inside Syria, safe access to education for school-age children and adolescents who are internally displaced is absolutely critical. The ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative will provide remedial education and psychosocial support organized in school clubs for pre-schoolers and other out-of-school children.

“The children of Syria have endured daily horrors and misery we can only imagine, and their dreams for the future are in danger of being crushed,” said Anthony Lake.

“Preventing the loss of this generation requires more support, bigger and bolder commitments and renewed solidarity to avoid a continuing cycle of violence, hatred and intolerance in a region that has suffered too much.”

A special website has been established that tells the stories of children affected by the conflict, and shows how investments in children can deliver important dividends, not just for the current victims of the war but for the longer-term future of Syria and the wider region.

ENDS

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