GENEVA, 7 January 2014 - 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 a "No Lost Generation" strategy to protect a generation of Syrian children from a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.
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 influential supporters and public contributors.
"The future for these children is slipping away, but there is still a chance to save them," said UNHCR High Commissioner António Guterres. "The world must answer this crisis with immediate, massive international support."
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. They 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.
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, which respond to the needs of girls, boys and families at high risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence while protecting all children against such risks.
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.
"Without these urgent investments, millions of Syrian children may never recover from so much loss and fear," said Guterres. "Their future, and the future of their nation, is at stake."
A special website has been established at http://www.championthechildrenofsyria.org 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.
Note to Editors
Most of the funding for the No Lost Generation initiative is being sought through two existing appeals - the Regional Response Plan aimed at addressing the needs of Syria's child refugees and The Syrian Humanitarian Assistance response plan which addresses the needs of Syrian children who are internally displaced.