Gordon Brown Calls for Urgent Action for 1 Million Refugee Children

** Urgent need to support the plan to allow 1 million Syrian refugee children to return to school.

** A new global humanitarian platform to coordinate and fund education in emergencies will be established as a long-term response.

** New appointments to International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity includes international artist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and longtime advocate for education Shakira, President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, and former Japanese Defense Minister Yuriko Koike. 

BROWN SAID: 

“Today we set out an immediately deliverable plan to provide schooling for 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan and a long-term response that can give hope to child refugees: a global humanitarian platform to fund education in emergencies.

“Today, immediate action is needed in the three countries hosting the largest Syrian refugee populations:

  • Lebanon has 525,000 Syrian and Iraqi pre-school and school age children and less than half of these children will go to school. While 140,000 have been allotted a place in school for this year, an immediate donor investment of $25 million is needed to ensure the current target of 200,000 Syrians in public schools is achieved as we advance to our eventual aim of 525,000.
  • In Turkey, we need places for approximately 400,000 children given that only one-third of the 621,000 refugee children are in school.  And we also need a sufficient number of teachers$24 million could prepare a cohort of 7,500 Syrian teachers to reach 300,000 refugee students in temporary education centers. 
  • Jordan has 215,000 school-age Syrian refugee children who need help in getting back to school. An investment of $65 million for this school year would reach the 90,000 out-of-school Syrian refugees and help sustain current efforts.

“Education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan must be given urgent priority to avoid the despair and desolation of a LOST GENERATION. Without education, young children are prey to early marriage, child trafficking, child labor, and are vulnerable to extremism.

“For many parents the choice of staying in the region or embarking on “death voyages” depends on their chance of getting their children an education.

“While food, shelter and security are essential, it is the ability to plan for the future, for a life and a career, that gives these children hope.

“In Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the main barrier to progress is not the absence of classroom facilities, teachers, or willingness on the part of the government to help children in need. The biggest barrier that must now be urgently removed is the absence of funds. 

“I now call on members of the international community – who know the importance of taking action in the region of Syria – to deal with this emergency and fund the 1 million places that we need to deliver education to refugee children. 

“It is important that we act now at the start of the school year as some children have been denied education for five years. It is important that we do not allow a sixth year to be lost without the practical, cost-effective and immediately deliverable chance of education.

“With Tony Lake of UNICEF and Julia Gillard of the Global Partnership for Education, we are today proposing a longer-term response to this crisis: a global humanitarian platform to fund education in emergencies.

“This new platform will fill an unacceptable gap in international provision where children fall through the net – trapped between a humanitarian system, focusing inevitably on food and shelter, and the development aid system that is long term and finds it difficult to cope with immediate crises.

“The new humanitarian platform we propose offers us a bridge between humanitarian and development aid.

“Next year, there will be a World Humanitarian Summit. In the run-up to this Summit, before the end of the 2015, we wish to make final decisions on the humanitarian platform to fund education in emergencies. 

“Such a bold initiative could offer millions of the world’s displaced children their first chance of schooling. 

“It would allow us to act immediately when there are natural disasters, like the recent earthquake in Nepal, and at the outset of conflicts, such as in South Sudan, with adequate provision for education in emergencies.  We could have done more at the outset of the Ebola crisis which forced 5 million children out of school. 

“The funding of education both in emergencies and across low and middle income countries will be a major part of the work of the International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunity, whose membership includes six former presidents and prime ministers, three Nobel prize winners, and includes Tony Lake from UNICEF and Jim Kim, President of the World Bank Group.  

“I am pleased that we can announce three new Commissioners who will join over twenty world leaders to build an agenda for action to finance and deliver education over the next several decades. 

“International artist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and longtime advocate for education, Shakira, the President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, and former Japanese Defense Minister, Yuriko Koike, are joining the new international commission.  It will report to the Secretary-General and the Co-Conveners next September. The Secretary-General has promised to consider action on the report at the time of the UN General Assembly meetings next year.