* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Yesterday the European Commission announced a €52 million humanitarian aid package for 2016, which is aimed specifically at educational projects for children in emergency situations.
According to UNICEF, 37 million children are currently out of school in areas affected by crises. With the new funding from the European Union, more than 2.3 million vulnerable girls and boys caught up in emergencies will have access to quality education in a safe learning environment.
EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, made the announcement yesterday in Brussels: "Investing in education now for children caught up in conflict zones and other emergencies, is an investment against the risk of a lost generation. An investment for the future. I am proud that the European Union is becoming a leader in this field," he said.
The funding will be targeted at regions where children are at higher risk of being left out of school or having their education disrupted: East, Central and West Africa, the Middle East (especially Iraq and Syria), Asia, Ukraine, Central America and Colombia.
It will be channelled through non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and international organisations and will support access to education, including catch-up classes, life skills and vocational training, mine risk education, recreational activities and psycho-social support.
Children will also benefit from the provision of school material and uniforms, school transport, the rehabilitation of damaged centres and the setting up of new education facilities. Teachers, parents and caregivers will also be supported and benefit from training.
Education in emergencies is one of the most under-funded areas in humanitarian aid worldwide, with less than 2% of humanitarian funding globally. Since 2012, the Commission has gradually increased the financial support to education projects for children living in emergencies through the EU Children of Peace initiative. In 2015, Commissioner Stylianides committed to increase the EU's humanitarian funding for education in emergencies from 1% to the global target of 4% by the end of his mandate. Thanks to the support from the European Parliament and EU Member States, this increase has been made possible already from 2016.
To date, more than €23 million has been allocated for education in emergencies projects, including the contributions of €500 000 from Luxembourg and €250 000 from Austria in 2014. Over 1.5 million children in 26 countries have benefitted so far. With the additional €52 million released this year, more than 3.8 million children in 46 countries will be helped by the end of 2016.