2015 is the ‘Year of Fear’ for children says Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, summed up some of the reasons why millions of children are not at school around the world. He said: “This is not the year of the child but the year of fear.”

Mr Brown addressed journalists at the UN in New York yesterday to emphasise the need for a humanitarian fund for education in emergencies.

He said there were “rising numbers of girls and boys at risk from conflict in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Burundi, South Soudan, northern Nigerian and from natural disasters in Nepal”.

On child labour, he added: “We expect the figure to rise as in crisis zone after crisis zone even school-age children who were once at school are being forced into child labour.

“Today in some of the world’s most troubled spots it is open season for traffickers, with girls snatched from the streets in Nepal to adolescents forced into marriage in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.”

He said it was vital to get children back to school quickly in Nepal after the earthquake, adding: “The government is directly warning half a million girls – now on the streets – and their parents, to beware of suspicious gangs trying to recruit them and traffic them out of the country.”

Mr Brown reiterated the call from A World at School and Plan International for a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies which he said could be launched later this year at the UN General Assembly. It would remove delays and prevarication when disasters strike.

He said the best answer to the many problems facing millions of children around the world was education.

“Not only does school offer opportunity and safety,” he said, “It restores hope that as children they can plan for a better future.”