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What We Owe Refugee Children

One of the best ways to mitigate the plight of refugee children is to provide them with an education. But host countries have struggled to integrate refugee children into their education systems, partly because the international community has not delivered on the support it promised.

BEIRUT – Last year, images of desperate refugees, many of them children, stirred our collective conscience and prompted world leaders to take action. But a year of political upheaval has diverted media attention from refugees’ plight. Against the backdrop of Brexit, terrorist attacks, and national elections in the United States, France, and Britain, we have lost sight of the fact that the refugee crisis is getting worse.

Today, on World Refugee Day, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is launching its #WithRefugees petition, to remind governments that they must work together to end the crisis. Indeed, a renewed sense of urgency is needed.

All refugees and asylum-seekers need help, but children are especially vulnerable. One of the best ways to mitigate their plight is to provide them with an education. And yet host countries, which are often near war zones, have struggled to integrate refugee children into their education systems. Among UNHCR-registered refugees, including those fleeing from Afghanistan and Somalia, 3.75 million children – 900,000 of them Syrian – are not in school. All told, the chance that a refugee child will be deprived of schooling is five times higher than the global average.

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