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Global champions and $1 billion investment needed to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children

2014-01-07

NEW YORK, 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 the “No Lost Generation” strategy, which aims to provide those affected by the conflict with the chance to shape a more stable and secure future. 

Through the US$1 billion strategy, the organizations are focusing donor and public support on critical education and protection programs 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. 

“As the conflict approaches another bitter anniversary, we cannot sit and watch a generation disappear in front of us,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.   “Now is the time for champions for the children of Syria, now is the time for the world to step up and provide these children with fresh hope and confidence for their future.”

“If we fail these children now, an entire region will lose a generation of potential leaders, teachers engineers, doctors and – above all- peacemakers, upon whom the hope for a stable, healthy and prosperous society depends.

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 5,000 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 programs 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 programs include strengthening national and community-based child protection systems.

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 programs, 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. 

“The children of Syria have endured daily horrors and misery we can only imagine, and their dreams for the future are in danger of being crushed,” said Lake.  “Preventing the loss of this generation requires more support, bigger and bolder commitments and renewed solidarity to avoid a continuing cycle of violence, hatred and intolerance in a region that has suffered too much.”

A special website has been established at 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.

Visit unicef.ca/syria to support children of Syria.

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. 

Attention broadcastersBroadcast quality PSAs available at http://weshare.unicef.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2AM4080XNXNX

Campaign hashtags: #childrenofsyria #NOlostgeneration

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.