Billion dollar appeal to save Syria’s ‘lost generation’ of children

by Crina Boros | | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 7 January 2014 18:04 GMT

Syrian children carry empty buckets and casseroles as they walk in search of food in eastern Ghouta near Damascus, an area besieged by government forces and short of food and fuel. Picture January 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ammar Al-Erbeeni

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Campaign wants money to improve education of displaced Syrian children and protect them from harm during the massive disruption caused by the civil war raging in their homeland

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Leading humanitarian organisations launched a one billion dollar appeal on Tuesday in an ambitious effort to help a generation of displaced Syrian children, one week before a major donor conference for humanitarian aid for Syria is held in Kuwait.

UNICEF, Save the Children, the UNHCR, World Vision and other aid agencies called on governments, charities and the public to join the “No Lost Generation” campaign in an effort to save Syrian children whose education, safety and family life have been wrecked by the civil war that has forced millions to flee and threatens to blight their future.

“As the crisis in Syria rages on, approaching its fourth terrible year, an entire generation of children is being shaped by violence, displacement and a persistent lack of opportunity – and could be lost for ever, with profound long-term consequences for Syria, the region and beyond”, a UNICEF report says.

“For nearly three years, Syria’s children have been the most vulnerable of all victims of the conflict, seeing their families and loved ones killed, their schools destroyed and their hopes eroded. Children have also become vulnerable to the worst types of exploitation including child labour, early marriage and recruitment into armed groups and forces,” said Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles.

The appeal is for money for crucial programmes for Syrian children who undergo displacement, trauma and diminished opportunities. The funds will pay for psychological care for children who need it, and for protection from exploitation, abuse and violence.  

The initiative will also scale up access to quality education, both for refugee children who have escaped Syria and for those who remain in the country, Save the Children said. According to UNICEF, “the economic and social collapse in Syria has reversed decades of educational achievement. More than 3 million children have left school – and thousands of young school-aged children have never been enrolled. In Syria, one in five schools has been destroyed, damaged, or used for other purposes. School systems in host nations are stretched to the breaking point.”

The ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative intends to provide “remedial education and psychosocial support organized in school clubs for pre-schoolers and other out-of-school children” the campaigners announced.  

Across the region, Save the Children teams have so far helped over 600,000 refugee children and family members, 230,000 of them inside Syria, with food, safe water, medicine and shelter.

According to Save the Children, “over one million Syrian refugees are children, of whom more than 425,000 are under the age of five. The majority of these refugees have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq.” Nearly 8,000 of the children have been separated from their families, it said. “The situation for the over three million displaced children inside Syria is even more dire.”

The campaign has also been launched on social media under the hashtag #childrenofsyria. Donors can go directly to the campaign’s website or to one of the aid agencies involved.

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